Conn. Seeks Federal Aid for Damages Caused by June Rains

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell is asking President Bush to approve a disaster declaration for the heavy rains and flash flooding that struck Connecticut in early June.

The request is to help compensate municipalities and state government for what officials estimate is more than $2 million in storm damage.

Damage estimates center on New Haven County, especially in Waterbury, which bore the brunt of destruction from the torrential rains on June 2. Recovery costs were also identified in West Haven, Meriden, Cheshire, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oxford and Prospect, with the state Department of Transportation sustaining damage to rail lines and highways.

In a letter to the President, Rell wrote said that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has verified $1,348,205 in eligible damages in Waterbury alone. Statewide, damages from this event are estimated at $2,249,209.

Federal reimbursement, if granted, would pay for 75 percent of recovery costs.

Rell asked for consideration of her request under a federal regulation that allows FEMA to provide assistance in a small, localized disaster.

“This consideration of disaster aid by looking at significant ‘localized impact’ allows FEMA to provide assistance even when customary damage thresholds are not quite met in terms of statewide and county damage, as is the case in this situation,” Governor Rell said.
For the June 2 storm, Connecticut does not technically meet the FEMA damage thresholds for state damage (about $4 million threshold vs. about $2.5 million estimate) or county damage (about $2.4 million for New Haven County vs. about $2.05 million estimate).

Nevertheless, Rell said she is making the request to President Bush and FEMA on the strength of localized impact, largely because of the disproportionate costs falling on Waterbury.

“Sixty-six percent of the damages in New Haven County and 60 percent of the damages statewide occurred in Waterbury, which has experienced extreme financial difficulties in recent times,” the Governor wrote.

Damage recovery estimates in New Haven County are $1,348,305 in Waterbury; $304,725 to DOT rail lines; $102,204 in other DOT costs; $108,000 in West Haven; $81,838 in Middlebury; $44,233 in Meriden; $21,000 in Cheshire; $20,813 in Prospect, $13,758 in Naugatuck; and $8,000 in Oxford. [see chart at end of supplementary justification excerpts below for breakdown of damage by category]

Damage in other counties did not approach federal criteria for disaster recovery funding eligibility. The damage estimate for New Haven County is $2,052,806, while damage to municipalities and state government in other counties combined is tabbed at $196,403.

“Towns outside of New Haven County do not appear eligible for federal consideration because of the much-lower damage costs in their counties,” Rell said. “The municipal damage total for all counties beyond New Haven County is estimated to be $180,220. Even though the impact on some town budgets is considerable–Rocky Hill, for example, reported $70,000 in storm damage—federal aid under the localized impact criteria is evidently not an option here because of the comparatively low county total.”

Source: Office of Gov. Rell