Catherine Ross, NBC 5 News
FEMA is offering free hotel rooms for a limited amount of time to some West disaster victims. The city has also approved the use of trailers or campers on the lawns of destroyed homes for temporary shelters.
There was a full house on Sunday in West, as community members gathered for another town hall meeting update about the city’s recovery process.
The same day, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) announced a temporary shelter program, making select disaster-affect residents eligible to receive hotel or motel rooms in the area without charge.
The federal agency will cover the cost during its initial “period of assistance”, which is scheduled for the next two weeks.
By evening, residents who received the phone call from FEMA notifying them of their eligibility for a hotel stay began arriving at the Best Western.
Bill Killough, however, has been staying at the hotel with his wife since “day one”, or April 17. That's the day the West Fertilizer plant exploded, killing 15 people.
"We are going to rebuild. Our house was totaled but we are going to rebuild it,” Killough said. "There are a lot of people who don't have any insurance. I don't know what they're going to do."
Insurance was also a hot topic at the public meeting.
While Killough says his insurance provider has given his family everything they’ve needed, others don’t have the same story.
Ted Helm says he had a rental property severely damaged in the disaster.
He thinks it will take at least $25,000 to repair, though his insurance provider told him a different story.
“They're telling me I have little to no damage and no structural damage - and I'm like, the house was solid before and now it's wavy,” Helm said.
However, he added that he feels guilty complaining, given that other family members have lost everything, and have yet to hear from their own insurance adjustors.
At the town hall meeting, residents also learned that the West City Council has approved the use of campers and trailers by disaster-area residents, provided that the vehicles are parked on property and not on the street.
This will allow people to live at “home” while rebuilding their damaged houses.
The council’s decision extends the parking privileges until May of 2014.