West,TX — In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Texas Governor Rick Perry formally asked President Obama to recognize West as a disaster area.
It has been roughly 48 hours since an explosion at a West fertilizer plant leveled a city block. Little has changed in the last 24 hours; Federal ATF agents and the Texas State Fire Marshall’s office are still investigating the scene.
Insurance claim stations are popping up throughout West. One would think a place like that would be bustling with activity. The problem is homeowners near the explosion haven’t yet been let in to see the full extent of their damage.
Rick Roth is an insurance specialist who deals with disaster relief. He's been geo-tagging their customers in the area. On his map you can notice the amount of claims filed in downtown in relation to those near the fertilizer plant.
“We know that we’ve got houses with damage," said Roth. "But we can’t get in there to actually look at the house. So that’s kind of what we are waiting for too. When we're going to have that opportunity to go in and see the house and see what kind of damage it is in.”
A couple of people that have seen the damage are John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. The two U.S. Senators from Texas were given a tour early Friday morning.
Cornyn said, “We had a chance to go to the blast site and see the tangled wreckage of one of the fire trucks where some of the first responders were. And as you know, there was a fire and then subsequently, after the first responders got there, caused the tanks to explode.”
Inside the tanks were believed to be Anhydrous Ammonia. A full review will reveal if that was indeed the case and if there were any safety measures breached.
Freshman Senator Cruz took the chance to celebrate local leaders involved from the very beginning.
“It’s really a testament to the leadership," said Cruz. "You look at McLennan County Judge Felton on the ground. You look at Mayor Tommy Mouska and you look at Sheriff McNamara who are both working on the ground along with state leadership. And I’ll tell you, it really underscores that Texas is blessed to have a world-class disaster response team on the state level."
But for now response time is over. And now that the federal agents are conducting their investigation, Cornyn says it is time to find out exactly what happened and how it could have been avoided.
“I’m sure that however this happened, that there will be some lessons to be learned from the investigation. We will be there to support local officials, state officials with federal assistance to try and figure out how we can prevent something like that happening again," said Cornyn.