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Bridgeport pushes for federal funding after severe flooding

December 6, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — The city is not taking no for an answer.

Bridgeport’s Office of Emergency Management put together a Preliminary Damage Assessment after between 5.5 and 7 inches fell on the city in less than three hours on Sept. 25. Six residences were deemed uninhabitable and more than $3 million in damages were recorded citywide.

Despite this, a letter from Mayor Joe Ganim to the Bridgeport Legislative Delegation said, “FEMA has determined that we are not eligible for such assistance under this program.”

But the city didn’t accept that denial. Scott Appleby, director of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, has drafted a correspondence rebutting the findings that the Sept. 25 flooding did not qualify for federal funding.

The 16-page report, provided to Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday, said the city’s Emergency Operations Center recorded an estimated $3,726,537 of uninsured or under-insured damages caused by the flooding on Sept. 25.

There were 150 locations that reported damages in Bridgeport, affecting close to 1,000 individuals or more, the report said.

Damages recorded by the city included flooded basements and vehicles, damages to boilers and electrical systems, water damage to personal belongings and furniture, property damage, damages to business equipment, collapsed walls near brooks and appliances damaged.

On Nov. 14, the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security sent the Bridgeport Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security an email, the report indicated. Within that email, the state said Bridgeport did not have sufficient uninsured damage to request a formal Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment with FEMA.

In the report, which includes the rebuttal urging the state to reconsider, the city said all factors about the storm and about the residents affected need to be looked at again before a definitive decision is made.

“The mere though that the state has determined the city or region had not met the criteria based on ‘destroyed or major’ damages should result in more training as it relates to the Public Assistance Program and Policy, along with a better understanding of the municipalities demographics, social issues and income challenges, which are paramount and a requirement for all decisionmakers, especially emergency management officials on all levels,” the report said.

But it wasn’t just Bridgeport that got denied; no counties in the state that applied met the thresholds set by FEMA.

Still, the state was able to pursue a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment for public assistance in Middlesex and New London counties, the report said.

It was confirmed in a news release sent out by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office on Wednesday. The public assistance will include coverage for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.

“Today’s announcement means that state agencies and municipalities in those counties will receive financial assistance from the federal government to help pay for eligible costs incurred as a result of the severe rain and flooding,” the news release said.

It was unclear if this could be an option for Fairfield County, but Bridgeport will continue to fight.

Bridgeport Director of Communications Rowena White said, “This issue of the flash floods remains a priority for the mayor as he and our administration continue to fight for residents who received damages due to the flood.”

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