Town sends state storm damage assessment; not too late for homeowners
The town reported to Hartford on Monday that the nor'easter that lashed the area recently will cost an estimated $595,000 in public funds, and that it further damaged at least 160 private homes.
The rest of the region filed similar reports, prompting Gov. M. Jodi Rell to announce on Tuesday that the storm caused $7 million of damage across the state, eclipsing the $4.39 million threshold needed to qualify for federal assistance, according to the governor's office.
Fairfield County has to show $2.8 million in damage, with costs covered by insurance deducted from damage estimates, according to Adam Liegeot, a spokesman for Gov. Rell.
Now, field officers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are expected to visit this county -- and town -- in coming weeks to make assessments of their own.
Fairfield's report included the private homes that registered as being damaged by either calling the town's storm damage hotline late last week or filling out an online survey before Monday morning. The survey is still available at www.fairfieldct.org and will stay online at least through Friday.
That list will guide FEMA workers as they evaluate private damages, Reid said.
The $595,000 in public costs consisted of overtime pay for police officers, firemen, emergency dispatchers and public works employees, as well as the estimated monetary damage to town buildings and property.
The damaged buildings included the Regional Fire Training Center at One Rod Highway, the Sullivan-McKinney Senior Housing Center, the H. Smith Richardson Golf Course (its buildings, fencing and the course itself), and the following public schools: Holland Hill, Riverfield, Stratfield, McKinley and Osborne Hill elementary schools; Roger Ludlowe, Tomlinson and Fairfield Woods middle schools; and Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe high schools.
"It was all minor to moderate damage, I wouldn't single out anything specific as severe," Reid said. He added that the fire training center's damage involved a semi-permanent tent, and that it was estimated between $3,000 and $4,000.
For homeowners, the online survey is brief. It asks for one's name, address and phone number; whether damage included fallen trees, structural home damage, flooding, power outages or something else; and for a couple-sentence description of the damage.
"We're not looking at any damage estimates," Reid said of private homes. "We just want to know there was damage to your property. The field inspectors will come out and meet with the homeowner, sit down and take a look at the damage."
Asked for a broad estimate of private damage, Reid said the dollar value will certainly "go into the millions."
This would not be the first time Fairfield has qualified for federal storm damage assistance. Most recently, parts of Greenfield Hill and the areas along Rooster River qualified after spring flooding in 2005. But this is the first time the town has used an online questionnaire to collect information on damages.
"I'm pretty happy with the results; we've had good success with this," Reid said. "Still, there are a lot of people out there who may not yet have reported. We hope they do."