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In Norwich, Blumenthal pushes for FEMA aid for September storm

November 30, 2018

Norwich — The seven members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation this week sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to grant Gov. Dannel Malloy’s request for a presidential disaster declaration, following flash flooding on Sept. 25.

Malloy on Nov. 20 requested the declaration for New London and Middlesex counties. He also requested Hazard Mitigation Assistance for the state and tribal lands.

The delegation is hoping for Connecticut to get reimbursed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the estimated $6.285 million in damage.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., joined with Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom and city fire officials outside the Yantic Volunteer Fire Department on Friday morning to push for the declaration.

City officials said the water rose to the 112-inch high-water mark on the post behind Blumenthal, well above his head, in the Sept. 25 storm.

Some parts of New London County got more than 6 inches of rain on Sept. 25. Cars in Franklin and Lebanon were trapped in flood waters, and there was a mudslide in East Haddam.

The congressional delegation’s letter stated that emergency-response efforts across Connecticut “strained a state budget already stretched thin by the direct impact of a straight-line windstorm, four major winter storms in three weeks, and the arrival of thousands of Puerto Ricans fleeing the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.”

Norwich Public Works Director Ryan Thompson said that, aside from the firehouse, there wasn’t a lot of damage to city assets in Norwich; it was mostly private property that was damaged.

Past Chief Ron Stolz said the storm brought about a foot of water into the firehouse, and it was pumped out but there was water damage. Washed-away picnic tables and pallets were piled up between the railroad tracks and the Yantic River, and Stolz said he doesn’t know how many others went down the river.

“We call it the Frantic Yantic, because you never know what it’s going to do,” he said.

Blumenthal hopes to get a response from FEMA in the next few weeks, before the end of the year. The governor is making the financial request under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

“Every member of our congressional delegation is joining today in this letter to FEMA demanding that we be treated fairly, and that our towns and cities be provided with the reimbursement we need and deserve,” Blumenthal said.

The senator also sought resiliency measures, especially in light of the National Climate Assessment the White House released last week.

He noted that building codes being adopted in shoreline communities are requiring elevated housing and wind-resistant windows, while Bridgeport is relocating some of its utilities to avoid power outages.

Mayor Nystrom said FEMA is in the process of analyzing flooding issues in downtown Norwich.

e.moser@theday.com

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