FEMA Assessing Tornado Damage in Connecticut

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on Monday began assessing damage from a tornado and a macroburst that hit Connecticut during severe storms last month, a process that could lead to federal aid.

Officials reviewed damage from an EF1 tornado with winds of up to 110 mph that ran 9 1/2 miles between Beacon Falls and Hamden, and from a macroburst packing 100 mph winds that struck Brookfield on May 15. A macroburst is a downdraft that can cause tornado-like damage.

A total of four tornadoes touched down in six towns in the state during the storms. Two people died in Danbury and New Fairfield when trees hit their vehicles, and more than 120,000 homes and businesses lost power. Tornadoes also hit between Southbury and Oxford, and in Winsted and Barkhamsted.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy may issue disaster declarations based on the assessments, which could lead to federal aid for repairs and cleanup if President Donald Trump approves.

“We are committed to stay here as long as it takes to accomplish this mission,” FEMA spokesman Diego Alvarado said.

FEMA officials were joined in Hamden by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and local officials and in Brookfield by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty as the assessments began. FEMA also planned to calculate damage in other affected areas.

“It will be followed by a disaster declaration by the governor, I’m quite confident,” Blumenthal said. “Then we will need to fight, and I mean fight, for the president to recognize that federal aid is absolutely necessary as a matter of fairness and justice.”

Hamden resident Jim Apuzzo said it will take another couple of weeks for him to finish clearing all the downed trees and other debris on his property.

“Hopefully, tornados are like lightning. They never strike twice in the same place,” he said. “Hopefully, this is the first and last time.”