The Governor's office sent me this statement today. I saw the damage firsthand. Fairfield County looks like it was hit by a hurricane.
"Governor M. Jodi Rell today toured damage in Fairfield County caused by a severe storm that brought heavy rain and high winds to Connecticut over the weekend, downing trees, blocking roads and cutting power to tens of thousands of households – nearly 59,000 of which were still without power at midday. At least three deaths in Connecticut are also associated with the storm.
Governor Rell met in Greenwich with First Selectman Peter Tesei and in Stamford with Mayor Michael Pavia. After reviewing the damage and discussing the situation with local leaders, the Governor announced she will declare a state of emergency.
“Saturday’s storm was among the most destructive to ever hit Fairfield County and the damage is simply astounding,” Governor Rell said. “Power lines are down, countless homes and businesses are damaged and thousands of trees – some as large as 5 feet in diameter – were simply bowled over.
“The winds have knocked over signs and blown down power poles and – of course – falling tree limbs have taken down additional utility lines,” the Governor said. “State and municipal crews are working as fast as they can to clear the roads and utility crews are out in force to get power restored. But this is a monumental job and it will take some time.”
At Governor Rell’s direction, the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) is working with Connecticut cities and towns to tally damage to public property and to homes and businesses, as well as expenses incurred in responding to the storm, to determine whether the state could qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Governor Rell said federal disaster assistance will be sought if minimum damage requirements are met. For Fairfield County, for example, a minimum of $2.85 million in damage must be recorded for that county to qualify for federal disaster assistance. For state government’s expenditures to qualify for federal reimbursement, the state would need to incur $4.39 million in costs.
DEMHS Commissioner Peter Boynton also held a conference call today with chief elected officials and first responders to determine whether communities needed any additional help from the state.
Officials from Connecticut Light & Power Co. and United Illuminating Co., the state’s two largest electric utilities, also participated in the DEMHS conference call. The utilities have crews working to restore power across the state and additional help has been called in from other states and utility companies.
The Governor has also called on officials from municipalities whose towns were not affected by the storm to loan equipment (e.g., wood chippers, bucket trucks, front-end loaders) and personnel to those communities that were hardest-hit. Calling it “a modern-day barn raising,” the Governor told the town leaders that while federal or state reimbursement for the loans is not available, “they could one day find their generosity reciprocated when their own town is in need.”
At Governor Rell’s request, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has agreed to serve as a clearinghouse for communities willing to share resources.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation is working to reopen more than two dozen Fairfield County locations where roads have been closed due to flooding, downed trees or the presence of live wires."