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Monday, July 28, 2014

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Fairfield officials lobby Murphy for flood-control aid

Published 4:50 pm, Thursday, March 20, 2014

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  • U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., came for a tour of areas in town officials are seeking federal help for to improve flood prevention. From left are Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo, Murphy, First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., came for a tour of areas in town officials are seeking federal help for to improve flood prevention. From left are Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo, Murphy, First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., listened to a pitch Thursday by town officials for federal help to "harden" Fairfield's infrastructure against future damage inflicted by extreme storms like Superstorm Sandy.

But after touring areas where the town is looking to improve flood-control measures, Murphy said he didn't need to be sold on the need.

"It's so much more cost effective to put money into the Army Corps budget," Murphy said, than to authorize millions in disaster relief after a storm hits.

Murphy said getting a firsthand look at infrastructure concerns will help him to convince congressional colleagues in Washington, D.C., to fund the Army Corps of Engineers and cut down on that department's current backlog.

"I think you guys have made a good case," the senator told First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo and Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey.

Standing at the cul de sac on Fairfield Beach Road, Michelangelo pointed out the rock revetment that protected homes on Pine Creek from flooding during Sandy in October 2012, though he said water was close to coming over the top of the dike until the winds shifted.

"Because it's already built, all we have to do is raise it," Michelangelo said.

He explained town officials also want to upgrade the dike system at Ash Creek, near the town marina, and behind the fire training center, as well as creating a berm around the water treatment plant. These are all projects, town officials said, that they feel should qualify for funding through the Army Corps.

A much larger flood-control plan for the entire town is also being designed, but would involve private property and acquiring easements. "I don't know if we're ready for that as a community yet," Michelangelo said.

Helping towns like Fairfield floodproof not only helps residents, Tetreau said, but lessens the damage caused during a storm and minimizes payouts by flood-insurance program, "so everyone wins."