Help Residents Rebuild, Delegation Asks Obama

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Connecticut’s Congressional delegation is joining in Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s battle with the Obama administration for federal help for tornado-damaged Bridgeport.

On June 24, 100-mile per hour winds “devastated a quarter mile stretch of the city,” the Congress members wrote in a letter to the president.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency investigated and determined that the storm caused more than $2 million in public property damage and $1 million in individual property damage, but denied the state’s application for a federal disaster declaration for Fairfield County and Rell appealed.

Now, Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, and U.S. Representatives Jim Himes, Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy are urging Obama to reconsider FEMA’s rejection.

“In short, without federal assistance, the affected households and businesses will not have access to the financial resources that will allow them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get to work rebuilding their lives,” the letter says. “These are precisely the circumstances for which federal disaster assistance was intended, and we hope that you will reconsider FEMA’s decision.”

The City of Bridgeport was most affected, but significant damage was also documented in Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, and Easton.

The June storm came after severe Spring storms for Fairfield County. In March, FEMA granted Fairfield County a major disaster declaration, and Public and Individual Assistance.

FEMA, at that time, recognized that “the resources of Connecticut and its municipalities have been overwhelmed by those events,” the letter says.

FEMA officials are still in Fairfield County assisting with that incident, according to Rell.

“This should be a clear indication that the State and local governments are still over-extended and in need of federal assistance in this case,” they letter from local Congress members says.

As Rell said in her appeal, 86 percent of the people affected by storm damage are considered low-income and only 17 percent had insurance.

“Many of these individuals and families were renters, and given their income levels, it is not unlikely that many of them will be more dependent on City and State services for basic necessities unless federal assistance is provided,” the elected officials said.

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