First selectman issues emergency declaration for hard-hit neighborhood
FAIRFIELD — First Selectman Mike Tetreau spent time Saturday afternoon visiting homes in the Lewis Drive and Lynbrook Road area, as homeowners continued to clean up after last week’s torrential rains.
The neighborhood abuts the Rooster River, and many homeowners found themselves flooded out when the river went over its banks in a storm that saw more than five inches of rainfall in about a two-hour time span.
Tetreau said he declared a state of emergency for the area at the request of residents, but it seems unlikely that will assist homeowners looking for help from FEMA.
Under federal regulations, all requests for emergency declaration must be made to the President from the governor of the affected state. Those requests must be made within 30 days of the event, and must show that the situation is beyond the capability of the state and affected local governments. A simple emergency declaration would provide public assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures. Individual assistance under an emergency declaration is available, but rare, according to the FEMA website.
A major disaster declaration is for hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, high water, etc., that cause damage of such severity that is is beyond the combined capability of state and local governments.
“That area had severe damage,” Tetreau said, adding he filed his declaration with the state. “I’m not quite sure where it goes from there, and I’m not quite sure this is going to meet the criteria for FEMA.”
Some of those residents, Tetreau said, have flood insurance, but others didn’t because they aren’t in a flood zone. “There are about 10 to 12 houses that are going to have a challenging time” The first selectman said the town is looking into what ways it may be able to assist homeowners with the cleanup.
“We are also going to look at the Rooster River,” Tetreau said. “Apparently, at one time we used to dredge Rooster River. We’re trying to find out when we stopped and why.”
He said he has reached out to Bridgeport’s Mayor Joseph Ganim to see what joint efforts can be made to address flooding from the river, which divides the two municipalities.
The storm on Sept. 25 resulted in flooding in many areas where flooding is not expected, town officials said. More than 30 cars had to be towed out of standing water, and more than 20 people rescued.
Exactly one week later, the town was again hit with severe storms, but this time, Police Lt. Robert Kalamaras said, only five cars had to be towed. The areas that flooded were the typical areas, Kalamaras said, with the town seeing more problems with trees and wires down from the thunderstorms that rolled through.