President Obama approved Gov. Jodi Rells request for a major disaster declaration for the state of Connecticut. The decision marks the first step toward receiving federal grants to offset the costs incurred by the severe storms that hit the area in March. The state government and municipal governments in Fairfield, Middlesex and New London Counties, the areas hardest hit by the storms, now qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid.
This is the beginning of critical and welcome news for Connecticut, Gov. Rell said. Our state and local governments have been pushed to the limit and in many cases beyond by the task of responding to storms that caused extraordinary damage across the state.
The cost of emergency services in Fairfield County exceeded $10 million in March. In Norwalk, police and fire departments tended to downed trees, live electrical wires, snapped telephone poles and flooding as a result of the heavy rain and strong winds that blanketed the area. In Westport, there was one fatality when a tree fell on a woman's car. Emergency services in Westport were spread thin given the number of live wires that falling trees brought down.
The Connecticut Congressional delegation worked to support the Governors request. In a letter sent to the President, the Connecticut legislators noted the area has been hard hit by the continuing economic recession, a situation that has been exacerbated by the recent storms.
Connecticut is in desperate need of federal assistance for the response and recovery efforts that will only become available with the declaration of a major disaster, the letter said.
FEMA staff members are scheduled to meet with representatives from the City of Norwalk and other municipalities in Fairfield County within the next two weeks. Rells office said these meetings would provide an opportunity for local officials to ask questions and learn more about the FEMA Public Assistance Program.
The President has not yet responded to the Governors request for aid to individuals and businesses affected by the storm. Earlier this month, the Governor announced a state loan program to help Connecticut residents make necessary repairs to their homes and replace essential appliances damaged by the storms. Information on the program can be found on the Connecticut Housing Investment Fund (CHIF) website at http://www.chif.org/ www.chif.org .
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