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FEMA to Assess Tornado Damage in Connecticut

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in Connecticut to assess damage from a tornado that touched down during severe storms last month.

FEMA officials will be conducting preliminary damage assessments in Hamden on Monday as they determine possible federal aid amounts. Federal, state and local officials will join FEMA.

Four tornadoes struck six towns in the state on May 15. Two people died in Danbury and New Fairfield when trees hit their vehicles, and more than 120,000 homes and businesses lost power.

The National Weather Service said an EF1 tornado with winds of 110 mph moved along a 9 1/2 path between Beacon Falls and Hamden.

State Parks Damaged by Storms

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said the data FEMA is compiling will allow the state to meet certain threshold amounts to qualify for a disaster declaration.

For the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Wallingford, Hamden and Bethany the threshold is $3.2 million for New Haven County and $5.2 million for the state.

“I believe we will meet those thresholds and that then triggers the presidential declaration,” said DeLauro, who represents the third congressional district.

FEMA will spend several days surveying the hardest hit areas and putting together a preliminary damage assessment.

Gov. Dannel Malloy can then use the results of that damage assessment to request federal assistance.

Toni Menchetti, who lives in North Haven, showed representatives from FEMA the damage to her property from the storms.

“This huge evergreen came across and totally blocked the front door it snapped the ridge on that section of the house, all the rafters on the main body of the house are splintered in a million pieces,” she said.

According to FEMA spokesman Diego Alvarado, it is ultimately up to President Donald Trump to decide if federal dollars will go to helping people in Connecticut.

“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,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said.

“We’ll be exercising every single pressure on the federal agencies involved and the SPA to make people whole again. But it is difficult,” DeLauro said.

That process of getting the president’s approval can take months, so in the meantime FEMA urges homeowners to document all the damage and repair costs. 

Some residents say it's a struggle to figure out how to pay for it all.

“Every contractor out here is ripping people off, listen to the prices they’re paying, $9,000 to move 2, 3 trees,” said Brookfield resident Raymond Murphy.

Despite his frustrations, Murphy said he plans to rebuild his heavily damaged home.

“It's gonna get fixed one way or the other it comes out of my pocket, it's gonna get fixed, it's gonna get fixed, just lucky we weren’t here," Murphy said.

In addition to touring Hamden, FEMA officials plan to visit Brookfield, Brookfield, which was hit by a "macroburst" packing 100 mph winds, along with Bethany, Danbury, North Haven and Wallingford.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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