July 10, 2018

Malloy requests storm disaster aid for New Haven, Fairfield counties

PHOTO | Eversource
PHOTO | Eversource
Eversource crews perform storm cleanup.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is asking the federal government to reimburse cities, towns and homeowners for some of cleanup costs from the severe storms and tornadoes that caused more than $13 million in damages to three counties last May.

Malloy applied Monday for federal presidential disaster declarations for New Haven and Fairfield counties, as well as the towns of New Milford, Bridgewater and Roxbury in Litchfield County.

Damage from the May 15 storm was catastrophic in northern Hamden, where a tornado left a swath of shattered trees, snapped utility poles and downed power lines in the area near Sleeping Giant State Park. Before reaching Hamden, the tornado touched down in Beacon Falls and destroyed a barn in Bethany. Sleeping Giant and Wharton Brook State Park in Wallingford have been closed since the storms.

"As some towns continue with recovery from the destructive weather, we are asking the federal government to provide assistance to those that were devastated by the storms," Malloy said in his request to FEMA. "If granted, this declaration would provide much needed help to the communities that were most affected."

In his letter, Malloy said the storms destroyed 25 homes, more than the 15 homes destroyed in Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the 12 destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

In total, 171 homes either were destroyed or sustained major damage and another 269 suffered minor damages. In addition, he said there were "an extraordinary number" of downed trees on private property -- a significant cost for affected homeowners.

After the storm, nine towns opened shelters, including Bethany, Oxford and Southbury. Hamden and North Haven ran commodities distribution sites to provide drinkable water to residents whose water systems were affected, he said.

Malloy is asking for assistance for both public entities and individuals.

If approved, affected towns and state agencies would be reimbursed for 75 percent of eligible cleanup costs and homeowners impacted by the storm could get up to $34,000 to cover uninsured damages to their homes.

Malloy said the damage estimate, at $13.25 million, was nearly three times higher than the threshold needed for the disaster declaration.

Damage was equal to a Category 2 hurricane in a 30-square-mile area covering seven towns, the governor's letter said, and equaled a Category 1 hurricane in a 600-square-mile area covering 19 towns.

Malloy's office said he is also pursuing a Small Business Administration disaster loan program, which could provide low-interest loans to affected residents and businesses in the three counties.

Read Malloy's letter to FEMA here.

Reach Natalie Missakian at news@newhavenbiz.com

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