The Connecticut Congressional delegation Friday urged President Obama to grant Governor Malloy's request for a major disaster declaration for the state as a result of a crippling snowstorm that left 880,000 households without power.
"The weight of the wet snow, combined with soil still wet from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, resulted in hundreds of thousands of trees being uprooted or losing limbs, devastating much of the electrical grid and blocking roads," the delegation wrote to President Obama. "The Connecticut Department of Transportation and municipalities report that over 300 state roads and hundreds of town roads were either closed or blocked. At the highpoint, over 880,000 customers were without electrical power and power remained out in some areas for over a week."
A disaster declaration entitles the state to additional federal funds to repay recovery costs borne by the state and local governments.
The delegation has worked closely with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate since the October 29 storm to get Connecticut the help it needs to cut down trees, clear roads and debris, and return to normalcy.
The full letter is as follows:
November 11, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
We are writing to strongly support Connecticut's request for a major disaster declaration. The State has suffered enormous damages from the severe winter storm which tore through the State in late October.
Weather reports indicate that the storm dropped up to twenty inches of snow in some parts of the State and that wind gusts as high as 38 mph added to the ferocity of the storm. The snow stuck to all objects, especially trees, which had not yet lost their leaves, and power lines. The weight of the wet snow, combined with soil still wet from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, resulted in hundreds of thousands of trees being uprooted or losing limbs, devastating much of the electrical grid and blocking roads. The Connecticut Department of Transportation and municipalities report that over 300 state roads and hundreds of town roads were either closed or blocked. At the highpoint, over 880,000 customers were without electrical power and power remained out in some areas for over a week.
At the peak, these power outages and road blockages led to the closing of 480 schools in 95 districts and a week later, 19 school districts were still closed. Officials opened over 58 shelters and 118 warming/bathing centers. Even ten days after the storm, 12 shelters and 46 warming centers remained open due to continued power outages. Emergency responders delivered commodities to 86 towns during the response. The State also suffered damage to fuel stations and communications capabilities, with over 35% of all cell sites down at one point. Tragically, ten people died as a result of the storm.
In response to the storm, Governor Malloy declared a State of Emergency and activated the State Emergency Operations Center for 24 hours a day for 11 days. The Governor also activated the Connecticut National Guard, Community Emergency Response Teams, the Civil Air Patrol, a Medical Reserve Corps Team, and Connecticut's Urban Search and Rescue team. Local officials opened seventy-one local Emergency Operations Centers.
Preliminary damage assessments document over $27 million in uninsured damages -- over five times the FEMA statewide cost threshold. Additionally, seven counties surpassed FEMA's per capita requirements.
This is the fourth major disaster to devastate Connecticut in the last 19 months and Tropical Storm Irene wrecked its havoc only two months ago. The severe winter storm has only further complicated the difficult situation that the State and its towns face. We therefore strongly support the Governor's request for a major disaster declaration and greatly appreciate your quick consideration of this request.
Joseph I. Lieberman, United States Senator
Richard Blumenthal, United States Senator
John B. Larson, Member of Congress
Rosa DeLauro, Member of Congress
Christopher S. Murphy, Member of Congress
Joe Courtney, Member of Congress
Jim Himes, Member of Congress