Help is on the way. But it may take a while.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and New Haven U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro delivered that message Monday about federal aid to people whose property was devastated by the May 15 tornado.
The pair showed up at the Hamden Department of Public Works to outline the extensive process now underway to assess the storm’s damage and deliver rebuilding aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Because the storm left a nine-and-a-half-mile span of destruction throughout Connecticut, officials declared this is isn’t a quick and easy process.
“This disaster was statewide,” said Blumenthal.
DeLauro said the storm felled 150 trees, “almost as much as Sandy. Hamden was hit the worst in the local area, though parts of New Haven lost 100 trees and 1,000 households lost power.
Hurricane Sandy inflicted nearly $70 billion in damage in 2012, according to DeLauro. DeLauro said that her office is “still working on constituent efforts” from the 2012 disaster. “It’s a long process.”
DeLauro said counties must meet a $3.2 million threshold to qualify for FEMA reimbursements for storm damage.
FEMA Spokesman Diego Alvarado outlined the main steps in the process of recovery for the state. First, the state and local officials must collect initial damage estimates, and then request a Preliminary Damage Assessment from the FEMA Regional Offices. From there, a declaration request is sent to the President through FEMA.
Above all, the state “seeks federal assistance” coming from “individual and public assistance from the President.” In the state, both public infrastructure and residential areas were hit with destruction, and federal financial assistance is necessary for rebuilding.
FEMA is “committed” to the project, however long it takes, Alvardo said. “This is just the beginning.”
Division 1 Coordinator for the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Bob Kenny said he and his team will survey the state over the next few days to assess where the heaviest damage is. His team plans hit North Haven, Wallington, Danbury, Brookfield, Fairfield, Bethany, and Hamden.
“We will work and fight together for relief,” Blumenthal vowed.
Blumenthal’s advice to those suffering from the damages caused by the natural disaster: “document, document, document.” Whether it’s in the form of photos of videos, Blumenthal and Alvarado both confirmed visuals will help FEMA collect information about compounding devastation throughout communities and the changes since the day of tornado impact. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Blumenthal.
Summit Eve Advice
Blumenthal and DeLauro closed the press conference with a discussion about goals and expectations heading into President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“As much as we hope for the success of diplomacy, we need to be on guard against the dangers,” warned Blumenthal. “We need to be very clear-eyed and realistic. “North Korea has a history of reneging on agreements.” Blumenthal cited eight previous agreements which he claimed that North Korea has violated.
The summit must be “more than just a reality show or spectacle,” Blumenthal argued. “The framework that comes from this summit must include our allies” and must “aim at complete denuclearization that is subject to inspection anytime and anywhere.” He said that this summit must be the “beginning” of hard diplomacy, “not the end.”
DeLauro added that “diplomacy is the only root to resolve the tensions between the nations” and that “the militaristic approach is one that is unacceptable.”
As a member of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Blumenthal said, he had heard both privately and publicly from leaders of the military that the cost of military action against North Korea would be “devastating in American lives and American resources.”