EVERYONE TO GET FROM
STREET" (a line from the movie
"The Russians Are Coming" 1966) and then there is Shakespeare...MacBeth
5.3.3. A miss!
Pages on the "About
website devoted to the subject of emergency management, both here in CT
and around the U.S.A. and the world:
OF THIS PAGE:
to Venice yet? Street
flooding in Eastern CT - NOT
JUST THE BIG
PROBLEM. Cities in history disappeared for lack of
it...Mother Nature better
than engineered drainage.
The Cartbridge Road bridge
story...and we now declare this bridge REOPENED! Read about it here.
sale: Main Street, Westport ("Rodeo Drive East")
parking available! FEMA flood
Weston double storms...number one in August, number two a Halloween
Special in Fall 2011.
T A B L E O
F C O N T E N T S
In Milford Sandy really made an impact.
Malloy calls on state
to help shoreline
Ken Dixon, CT POST
Published 7:44 pm, Thursday, March 20, 2014
EAST HAVEN -- Disappointed with what he called a slow, disjointed
response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the shoreline
devastation suffered in recent years, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy returned to
Cosey Beach on Thursday to push for a $25 million, low-interest loan
fund to help elevate and flood-proof coastal properties.
Malloy announced the program last fall and included it in his pending
budget proposal to the General Assembly, with $2 million already set
aside to start up the state Department of Housing's Shoreline
But he wants lawmakers to approve it soon, before the midnight, May 7
deadline, so loans can go out this summer.
"I have frustrations with the federal government on their policies and
procedures and I'm here to express those," said Malloy during the
first-day-of-spring visit to the waterfront neighborhood he has
returned to several times following the major storms that have marred
his tenure in office and torn up communities throughout the state.
"We need to understand that, for generations, Connecticut residents
have made their homes along our coast, and their businesses have
flourished as well," Malloy said. "During this century, we have
experienced more frequent storm surges and the number of severe storms
is only expected to increase as time goes by. This is a state Shoreline
Resiliency Fund. We get to write the rules, not the federal government.
We must mitigate the opportunity for damage and strengthen our
infrastructure so that each time a storm hits we are not ravaged by
He said many federal income guidelines are too low to help Connecticut
But with an estimated minimal cost of $100,000 to raise a home above
the floodplain, only a few hundred home and business owners may take
advantage of the fund, which unlike federal programs would not have
"I imagine that we'll need more money, but I think we have to get a
program up and running and demonstrate its effectiveness before the
Legislature is going to want to put a lot more money into it," Malloy
said. "But let me be very clear: As opposed to what other states are
doing, we're doing something. We're not going to wait around for the
federal government to act."
Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein is reviewing bids from lending
institutions that may participate in the program, which will award
loans with interest rates below 3 percent.
Malloy said most loans will range between $100,000 and $300,000.
"This is not a handout," he said. "These are, in fact, loans. We're
going to build programs that we think are sustainable, that will allow
people to make the kind of progress that can and should (be made). I
don't have an answer to everyone's question today on this front, as we
try to confront what is climate-driven change."
Malloy said FEMA's national standards, with much lower income ceilings
for eligibility, hurt Connecticut and the Northeast.
"The cost of raising something in Florida is a lot less than here," he
said. "We are grossly disadvantaged by federal regulations as applies
to this stuff."
In reaction to the governor's news conference, officials including Tom
Ivers, block grant coordinator for the city of Milford, which has as
many as 5,000 houses in flood zones, said Thursday they're taking a
wait-and-see approach as they wait for FEMA to write checks 17 months
after Superstorm Sandy raked the coast.
"It's kind of hard to critique a program that doesn't exist," Ivers
said in a phone interview following Malloy's beachside news conference.
Ivers said that unless whole neighborhoods can be helped, blighted
properties will eat away at property values. Conversely, neighborhoods
will have unbalanced streetscapes if only some buildings elevate.
"Nothing has happened yet for anyone with FEMA or (federal Department
of Housing and Urban Development) funds," Ivers said.
"The money you get from the federal government, you have to have damage
before you can raise your house," said Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven,
whose district includes Cosey Beach. "Along the coast, I have people
who say they want to raise their homes, but they cannot afford the
money up front. If we could get these people, preventively, to raise
their house, that would be good."
The state fund would be open to all property owners, whether or not
they live there.
"The federal government leaves you in a hole," said Fasano, speaking in
an interview after the news conference. "Also, under the federal FEMA
program, you can't raise your home until you get damage."
Fasano has submitted legislation that would make it easier for
shoreline property owners to erect barriers to stop harmful waves, but
state environmental officials are against affecting tides.
"We don't need government money," he said. "They'll spend their own
money. Just write a law that allows them to do that."
"DO-OVER" ARTICLE FROM CT MIRROR FEB. 18, 2014 HERE
Hazard mitigation grant do-over
By: Jan Ellen Spiegel | January 31, 2014
After a massive outcry from shoreline communities, the state Division
of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is being ordered to
reconsider its decision to deny a particular source of federal funds
for all home elevations and buyouts related to storm Sandy.
In a letter Friday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered that the committee
that decided priorities for the funds – known as Hazard Mitigation
Grants, provided through the Federal Emergency management Agency (FEMA)
– reconvene and reassess its decisions.
The state received more than $81 million in funding requests, nearly
five times the $16.6 million available. A committee formed to determine
allocation priorities decided all the money should go to infrastructure
projects in the belief that it would have a wider spread benefits.
Shoreline communities that had applied for funds for a total of 93 home
elevations and nearly two dozen buyouts were outraged. Many town
officials and homeowners sent letters demanding reconsideration.
Malloy’s letter also directed the state housing department to ramp up
its process for home repair and elevation applications for those
applying for other sources of funding.
State denies Sandy aid to coastal homes
Neil Vigdor, Greenwich TIME
Updated 12:02 am, Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Still struggling to get back on their feet more than a year after
Superstorm Sandy, which displaced many shoreline residents of
Connecticut, none of them will receive funds to move their homes to
higher ground under the latest round of emergency aid.
The state sent out rejection letters Monday to 94 applicants from
Greenwich to East Haven, who requested a total of $18 million to
elevate their homes through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
The amount of funds available to the state for hazard mitigation is
$16.6 million, however.
The state says the money would be better spent hardening infrastructure
such as seawalls, bridges, levees and wastewater treatment plants, a
decision that has baffled the leaders of a number of shoreline towns
and owners of the most vulnerable homes...story
in full here.
must have been some big wave to take out this pier! About
insurance...FEMA has new standards, or soon will...they're here!
Old Greenwich (c) and example in Milford CT.
WAITING FOR GODOT
FEMA reimbursements not designed for Fairfield County homeowners - type
in your data here and you'll see: http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/
Reimbursing Fairfield County at Louisiana rates
Ken Dixon, CT POST
Updated 10:17 pm, Saturday, September 7, 2013
When Fairfield First Selectman Michael C. Tetreau drives along
Fairfield Beach Road, he's sees that the rebuilding after Superstorm
Sandy is taking too long.
"It still looks like a construction site," he said recently,
complaining that residents who suffered from the tidal surge are trying
to get their heads above water after the town's worst storm since the
legendary hurricane of 1938.
They're still battling with insurance adjusters whose estimates are
based on unrealistic, lower-priced properties in the South. Seniors on
fixed incomes face the prospect of taking out new mortgages for the
$90,000 price of raising their houses on concrete pilings to meet
Federal Emergency Management Agency flood-safety requirements.
"It's been one big frustration," Tetreau said. "The FEMA folks have all
been very nice. But there's no one person who has the answers."
Town residents have told him that after decades of paying
flood-insurance premiums, when claims were filed last year, homeowners
with $250,000 in coverage and contractor estimates of $235,000 were
told by the out-of-state adjusters that they would award only $175,000.
"Thirty five thousand dollars in Louisiana is not enough in Fairfield
County," Tetreau said. "Nobody's getting enough money."
Homeowners resorted to hiring private adjusters to defend their
"That's the biggest frustration, on the FEMA side," Tetreau said.
"You're paying premiums every year for $250,000 in coverage, then you
should be getting $250,000. That's what people expected. That was what
flood insurance was supposed to be. But we've all learned differently."
Those homeowners in the best shape already had their houses raised to
FEMA flooding standards. Houses with damages more than half their value
must raise them.
Tetreau said that overall, counting various types of flood insurance,
Small Business Administration loans and FEMA funding, it takes a long
time to navigate the aid process. Even FEMA's program to provide up to
18 months of rental housing is unrealistic, he said.
"They don't give you enough money to rent a comparable home in the
Fairfield area," Tetreau said. "So people are out-of-pocket on
temporary housing; facing $80,000 to $90,000 to raise their house;
they're going into their savings, retirement and college funds."
Tetreau is also wary of the state's new program of federal
disaster-relief funding, much of which is aimed at lower and
"Our biggest concern is seniors on fixed incomes, with no mortgage, who
had chosen to go without flood insurance," he said. "Now, as their
homes have to be raised, there are 10-to-12 steps they have to take.
The process is a lot less senior friendly."
Nearly 11 months after Sandy, the recovery underscores the
vulnerability and fragility of the shoreline. "I think the ongoing
struggle is how it's devastated the financial resources of the beach
area as they try to rebuild," he said. "It's unbelievably stressful."
FEMA Flood Map Changes Trigger Anxiety
by Diana Stricker | Sep 3, 2013 8:10 am
A FEMA workshop to discuss new flood maps and insurance changes brought
a flood a people, a flood of questions and a flood of frustration in
New FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] floodplain maps went
into effect in New Haven County in July, resulting in more properties
being designated as high risk zones. In addition, residents will have
to deal with the effects of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform
Act of 2012 which will phase out lower premiums for many homes,
including older homes that were grandfathered into the National Flood
There was standing room only this past Tuesday night as more than
residents from throughout the region crowded into the community room at
the fire headquarters in Branford to hear the presentation, ask
questions and look at online maps. Information from the workshop and
links to FEMA sites are available on Branford’s website under the FEMA
Flood Insurance Maps link on the left side of the home page.
Town engineer Janice Plaziak, who has been working with residents to
sort out the flood map details, said she wasn’t surprised at the
turnout at the workshop due to the number of phone calls she has
received. Plaziak said the town’s Engineering Department does not make
decisions regarding who needs flood insurance, but they can help answer
Christopher Markesich, a FEMA natural hazards program specialist, said
that following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA was directed to do new
mapping from the Gulf Coast up to Maine. He said the new maps are much
more accurate than the previous ones.
“There’s a lot more science behind these maps,” Markesich told the
crowd. “We have a longer period of record” to rely upon. But his
response did not allay concerns that a way of life that shoreline
residents have known may soon become too costly to afford. Realtors
voiced similar concerns.
RESIDENTS FACE MANY QUESTIONS
Short Beach resident Rodney Hayes is fearful she will lose the
preferred premium savings she has received in recent years. Her home,
which is about 250 feet from the shoreline, was built by a sea captain
in 1880. “It’s still standing through all the hurricanes and we
had flooding in the basement,” she said.
She has lived in the home year-round for 15 years. This year’s flood
insurance premium was $459, but if the federal subsidies are phased
out, her insurance agent told her the rates could eventually climb to
$3,000 a year.
“It’s another added burden,” she told the Eagle. “The taxes and
insurance will probably force us out of here.”
The new regulations are also causing concern for Glen Yarbrough, who
just purchased a home on East Haycock Point Road in the Pine Orchard
section of town. “It affects me greatly,” she said following the FEMA
“I am trying to weigh the big decision about whether to elevate it,”
said Yarbrough, who is renting a home in Branford until the
newly-purchased home is renovated. “It’s exciting and it’s terrifying,”
she said of her new venture.
KNOW YOUR RISK
“The most important thing is to know what your risk is,” said Bob
Desaulniers, FEMA regional insurance specialist. “You definitely
to know what zone you’re in.”
During the FEMA presentation, Desaulniers gave advice about
understanding the new digital maps and the changes resulting from the
new federal legislation. FEMA creates floodplain maps, also known as
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for each community in a flood
“Talk to your insurance agent sooner rather than later and talk about
what your options are,” Desaulniers said. He said residents whose homes
are designated in a high hazard flood zone for the first time “might
qualify for two years of a preferred policy…a relatively inexpensive
He said if a property owner has a mortgage, their lending institution
will inform them if they need to purchase a flood policy.
Desaulniers spent a good portion of the 45-minute presentation talking
about changes to the grandfathering rules and special subsidies. Homes
that were built before federal floodplain mapping began, or homes that
were built in compliance with federal flood regulations at the time
generally pay lower premiums than the risk requires.
We have a mandate…to phase out both of these kinds of subsidies,”
said. The grandfathering rules and discounts are still in effect now
but are slated to begin being phased out in late 2014, according to the
“They’re not just going to stop the grandfathering overnight.
going to phase it out,” Desaulniers said. However, he also said there
are proposed bills pending in Congress regarding the grandfathering
status. He said FEMA won’t know specific details about phasing out
until mid-2014, and that it could change if more legislation is passed.
“We just don’t know how that’s going to play out,” Desaulniers said.
He said some insurance premiums are already increasing, including homes
that have experienced severe repetitive losses; or policies that have
“If you have an older home and you’ve got a basement…you don’t want
that policy to lapse,” Desaulniers advised.
He said older homeowners who paid off their mortgage and want to sell
in the near future should continue to keep flood insurance. He said
they should take into account that buyers will need to have flood
insurance if they have a mortgage and are in a high risk flood zone.
“Find out what flood zone you’re in and factor that into your financial
planning,” he advised homeowners.
He also said that homeowners in high risk zones may need to obtain
Elevation Certificates for their property to determine the correct rate.
Desaulniers said people can benefit from “significant” insurance
savings by reducing their risk by retrofitting or elevating their
homes. “Adapt and try avoiding the risk. Definitely consider what is
possible,” he said.
LOCAL REALTORS CONCERNED
The double whammy of new flood maps and increasing insurance costs is
scaring away some prospective buyers, according to local real estate
agents who attended the workshop.
Residents who live in high risk flood zones will be required to
purchase federal flood insurance if they have a mortgage or line of
credit on their property. In addition, property owners in high risk
zones will be required to get a special permit before they begin any
renovation or expansion projects.
“It affects everyone from the littlest brook to the shoreline,” said
Nancy Orlando of Century 21 in Branford. She said the first question
prospective buyers ask is whether the home is in a flood zone. “People
are shying away from beachfront, waterfront and riverfront.”
Julie Premo of Prudential Reality in Branford said realtors are
concerned about the effect on sales. “The board of realtors is trying
to keep up with all the information,” she said.
Residents who live in low or moderate risk floodplain areas may be
eligible for a preferred risk policy at lower rates, but they are not
typically required to purchase insurance even if they have a mortgage.
Some people at the regional workshop complained about the lack of
clarity of the new digital maps and others questioned the accuracy.
Joan Morotto, who lives in Northford, told the Eagle that she pays high
flood insurance premiums and has never been flooded in the 52 years she
has lived there. Her home is near a brook, but she said there “has
never had more than 3 or 4 inches of water in the brook.”
The new maps put her home in a higher risk zone. “I’ve been fighting
this for 10 years. There’s no rhyme or reason why I’m paying flood
insurance. Now it’s going up significantly.”
Bill Ganner told the Eagle he is concerned about the new flood
elevation listed for the Lamphiers Cove area. He said the elevation
went from 14 feet to 21 feet, and he thinks that must be an error. He
has had a summer cottage in the area since 1946 and has never been
A Guilford man told the FEMA agents that he might be one of the lucky
ones whose home is no longer included in the high risk floodplain,
according to his interpretation of the new maps. However, he said he
can’t convince his insurance agent that he doesn’t need a policy
anymore. Like others at the workshop, he told FEMA the new digital maps
FEMA officials were available for one-on-one discussions of the digital
maps and offered to help residents find their map designation.
(The presentation from the meeting and a copy of the handouts are
available on the town’s Website in a link “FEMA Flood Maps and Flood
Insurance Information” under ‘News & Events.”)
Rates for the National Flood Insurance Program are set by the
government and do not vary from one insurance agent to another.
policies pay a maximum of $250,000 for a damage claim to a residential
structure, and a maximum of $100,000 for contents. Other assistance may
be available if the area is declared a disaster, as with storms Irene
The FEMA Flood Smart Web site www.floodsmart.gov contains vast amounts
of information and provides a link that gives a quick one-step estimate
of flood insurance rates when the user types in an address.
PRESENT 300 PLUS PAGES OF RECOMMENDATIONS ON SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY
SCHOOL SAFETY TASK FORCE - DESIGN THOUGHTS FROM FEMA - CT
ARCHITECTS' RESPONSE HERE.
F.E.M.A. architect presentation; safe havens; inner
"dropped" and drills. Risk
Assessment online. Threat level can't be reduced by
architects. There are Federal Mandates for building risks.
Physical improvements only. "Delay" is the first thing to
assure. Case by case. Doors to isolare the classrooms
suggested!!! Appendix F is a list of things to do to protect
Anita Vashi and Nurit Harari:
the tragedy of Sandy Hook and the destruction of Hurricane Sandy have
Monday, May 06, 2013
What do the tragedy of Sandy Hook and the destruction of
Hurricane Sandy have in common?
From a public health perspective, which measures the impact of stress
on an entire community, the two Sandys have much more in common than
one may realize. Both catastrophes were dubbed national disasters. Both
incidents captured the nation's heart and concern, and as such,
response to both has been public and swift. The critical difference, of
course, is that epidemic gun violence is preventable and storms are not.
In the aftermath of such disasters, images of destroyed buildings,
displaced families, inconsolable, crying children stir our inner Good
Samaritan and call us to action. The president visits. Fundraisers are
organized. Celebrities lend their name. Volunteers and relief
organizations swing into action to alleviate the economic, physical and
emotional tolls on the affected communities.
Contrast this with the response to communities where gun violence is a
In those communities, residents lock doors and suffer in isolation.
Notably absent, is the spirited "Good Samaritan." In New Haven, CT,
still recovering from one of its most violent years, one woman
poignantly described her experience of hearing gunshots in her
apartment complex: "Liv[ing] in this war zone... I hide in our
apartment and don't engage with my neighbors at all." After a New Haven
toddler was shot, caught in the middle of drug war fire, a 6-year-old
girl interviewed on local television said matter-of-factly that it is
too unsafe to play outside because of the guns. The words of these two
residents expose the wounds of a community deeply traumatized by gun
It is time we acknowledge this everyday gun violence as a disaster.
While the definition of disaster, "a sudden event that causes great
damage or loss of life" certainly applies, it does not get used. Though
community violence differs from natural disasters, the effect of
violence on communities is not unlike the trauma that ensues after a
disaster. The effects of community trauma can be long lasting, and is
experienced even by those not directly affected by the event.
As physicians, we see the far-ranging effects violence has on our
patients, many of whom were never directly impacted by violence. Recent
research has shown that chronic exposure to violence leads to prolonged
activation of stress response systems in the body, called a "toxic
stress response." Early "toxic stress" is associated with disruptions
of the developing nervous, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic
systems, and impairments in learning, behavior, physical health and
mental health. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that the
harmful effects of "toxic stress" can last a lifetime. In places
where chronic exposure to violence is the norm, entire communities are
likely suffering from these adverse effects.
Research has shown that though natural disasters threaten many
communities, the response to the challenges of recovery vary greatly
and in ways that aren't explained by the magnitude of the catastrophe.
The difference lies in the depth of a community's resilience. To
this end, building community resilience -- the sustained ability of a
community to withstand and recover from adversity -- has become a key
policy issue at local, state and federal levels. Both Homeland Security
directives and the National Health Security Strategy recognize the
importance of instilling community resilience for both our health and
Communities where gun violence is an everyday occurrence need a similar
preparedness and response plan with an emphasis on resilience.
While effective solutions to building community resilience are still
emerging, key provisions include delivery of psychological screening
and referral, outreach to vulnerable individuals, clear communication,
community engagement and building effective partnerships between
governmental and community-based organizations. This comprehensive,
coordinated response to community violence shifts focus back to the
forgotten victim of gun violence - the community.
Using lessons from disaster preparedness to address urban violence may
help to build resilience so that when disasters do strike, communities
are ready and equipped. Maybe then victims can stop hiding in their
apartments, 6-year-olds can again play outside, and communities can
start to heal.
are not the only ones who see a link (other than "Sandy") in these two
concerned about plan for using Sandy relief funds
By Neena Satija Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Connecticut legislators today approved a state plan to use $72 million
in federal Storm Sandy relief money primarily to rehabilitate housing
that was damaged during the storm last November. But many
reservations, referring to the plan’s lack of detail and the delay in
getting funds to those who have been waiting for months.
“How soon will we be getting money on the street?” asked State
Diana Urban, D-Stonington, whose district includes many shoreline
properties. “We have businesses and homeowners that have been in dire
Evonne Klein, commissioner of the newly-created Department of Housing
that is in charge of the funds, said she hopes homeowners still dealing
with damage from Sandy will be able to apply for assistance starting
this summer. Some $30 million will go toward repairing owner-occupied
homes, while $26 million will help to repair multi-family housing,
including public housing.
“We are on schedule. We’re on time to get to what we need to get done
on behalf of the citizens of Connecticut,” Klein said.
She is facing a tight deadline of early June to submit the final plan
to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD) for
approval. Only then will HUD release the $72 million. Meanwhile,
York and New Jersey’s detailed plans for use of the Sandy relief funds
–- more than $1 billion for each state – were released months ago, and
HUD has approved them. Over 8,000 homeowners have already applied for
housing assistance through New York State’s program for rehabilitating
homes with the federal money.
“Why are we behind New York and New Jersey?” asked Urban during a
hearing at the state capitol on the state’s plan.
“They didn’t have this particular process to go through,” Klein said,
referring to the need for initial state legislative approval.
Connecticut requires that the budget, appropriations, and other General
Assembly committees sign off on the use of federal grant funds.
“I’m not aware of what New York’s and New Jersey’s formal processes
are, but… we’re not behind,” she said.
Legislators also pressed Klein on details of how a home-repair program
administered by the state would work.
“What’s the process for funding individual homeowners for repairs?”
asked Rep. Terrie Wood, R-Darien, who represents the coastal towns of
Darien and Norwalk. “What’s the process for deciding that? What
homeowners would be eligible?”
Klein said those who live in a 100- or 500-year floodplain and
experienced damage due to recent storms would be eligible for
assistance not only to repair their homes, but also elevate them and
institute other floodproofing or windproofing measures. She could not
provide estimates of how many residents might be helped by the $30
million proposed for owner-occupied homes, or whether the amount of
money a particular homeowner could receive would be capped.
The money will help homeowners who did not receive enough money from
the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other insurance, as well as
those who are not insured. The plan estimates that insured homes may
need $4,000 on average for repairs, while un- or under-insured homes
would need $25,000 each. The plan estimates that those who need to
elevate their homes would require $41,000 on average.
Mayors of coastal towns challenged those numbers last week in comments
they submitted regarding the plan, and said they need more details.
Bill Finch, mayor of Bridgeport, said the data presented in the plan
Milford Mayor Benjamin Blake said, "It is impossible to provide
insightful and well-informed commentary on this plan without knowing
where these funds will be allocated.”
Officials and residents also said in their comments that the state’s
$41,000 estimate for the cost to elevate a home was unrealistic,
because it assumes that FEMA money will cover the rest, bringing the
total cost to around $100,000.
“These [FEMA] funds aren’t even available at this time,” wrote Tiffany
Sprague, a Milford resident. “…[and] they can take upwards of a year to
approve…None of us can wait that long.”
Officials say they expect more money to become available from the
federal Sandy relief bill in the coming months and years. Congress
appropriated $16 billion in HUD Community Development Block Grants as
part of a massive disaster relief aid bill approved in January, and
only some of that money has been released so far.
They plan to use that extra money to help with additional needs from
homeowners, as well as bigger infrastructure projects and perhaps even
a buyout program for anyone who wants to leave the waterfront
But the amount of additional money available will be limited. HUD has
already allocated one-third of the $16 billion, only $72 million of
which went to Connecticut.
Klein acknowledged that she has her work cut out for her in the next
“This was something that, when I walked into the job, I didn’t know
would be part of the time,” she said.
“Our number one priority is to get folks back into their homes,” she
Other uses for the $72 million include $4 million to help small
businesses who suffered from the storm, $2.2 million for repairing
public facilities, and $6 million for administration and planning.
Few details were provided on how exactly those funds would be used,
though Klein said she does plan to hire more than 10 “durational
employees” with disaster assistance and contracting experience to help
“I’m the only employee in the the Department of Housing so far,” she
Sandy plan worries coastal
Ana Radelat and Neena Satija, CT MIRROR
May 6, 2013
Washington -- With the help of $71.8 million in federal block
grants, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hopes to launch a new housing program to
aid the state's Hurricane Sandy victims.
But several Connecticut cities and towns have reacted to the proposal
with confusion and are concerned that Malloy's plan is based on bad
Mayors and housing officials from several municipalities -- including
Norwalk, New Haven, Milford, Fairfield and Bridgeport -- have weighed
in on Malloy's plan to spend most of the $71.8 million on grants to
homeowners and owners of multifamily homes who have not received enough
money from insurance companies or the Federal Emergency Management
Agency to repair their homes. The money is being allocated to the state
by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Only second homes and the wealthy would be ineligible for the help.
But coastal city mayors say the plan is too vague for them to
understand how it could help their communities and they worry that some
homeowners, who are now required to elevate their homes, would be
locked out of the program.
There's also concern that there isn't enough money to take care of
housing needs, or to pay for other projects to fortify Connecticut's
coastline from another storm.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said all of the $71.8 million should go to
New Haven and Fairfield counties, "two counties where the vast majority
of damage occurred."
Under the governor's plan, storm victims in Fairfield, New Haven,
Middlesex and New London counties, and the Mashantucket Pequot Indian
Reservation, would be eligible for the aid -- with 80 percent of the
funding going to Fairfield and New Haven counties. Through the state's
Department of Housing, Malloy proposes to provide $30 million in grants
to homeowners who did not receive enough money from FEMA or their
insurance companies to repair their homes and/or who lacked federal
flood insurance coverage.
Finch, in his public comments on the plan, said the data on how many
homeowners need help "seems vague and those residents are more likely
to be at the top of the eligible income bracket."
The allocation plan -- which would also provide several million dollars
for economic development and infrastructure -- is short on detail.
Administration officials say it's still in development. The plan is
The plan proposes to allocate $26 million to leverage up to $105
million in private and public funds to repair apartments and other
multifamily housing units damaged by Sandy.
"Based on current knowledge of affordable housing funds, it is
estimated that the $147 million in unmet needs ... can be addressed
using First Tranche Funds as gap financing to leverage over $105
million in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, historic tax credits
(state and federal), private financing, and/or tax-exempt bond
financing from the State or the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority,"
the proposal says.
Yet, Finch said, "there are no assurances" that the money raised would
be committed to repairing storm-damaged rental units.
Finch's comments were among dozens submitted by municipalities and
individuals during a recent seven-day public comment period on the
Malloy administration's proposed plan. The administration declined to
make those comments public, but the comments were provided by some of
the mayors' offices and through a Freedom of Information request.
Milford Mayor Benjamin Blake criticized the plan because it does not
break down how the money would be spent by municipalities.
"It is impossible to provide insightful and well-informed commentary on
this plan without knowing where these funds will be allocated," Blake
said in his public comments.
He also said the governor's draft proposal "grossly" understates the
number of homes that need to be repaired and protected from future
The plan says about 5,400 homes need help with repairs and 220 of these
also need to be flood-proofed.
But Blake said Milford alone has 209 homes that are in a flood zone and
require to be elevated before their owners are granted building permits
to repair the houses. He said the total number of those required to be
elevated is more like 2,500, not 220, and there's no money in Malloy's
plan to help those homeowners.
In a letter to Malloy, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said she
wanted to "amplify" Blake's concerns.
DeLauro said FEMA only provides money to acquire and demolish homes in
a flood plain that are more than 50 percent damaged. "Milford is in
dire need of another solution," DeLauro wrote.
"That no mitigation money is included in the draft plan is deeply
concerning," DeLauro wrote.
Evonne M. Klein, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public
Housing, wrote to DeLauro that "mitigation only" projects were not
included in the Malloy plan, but that qualified homeowners could use
the money to elevate their houses.
She also reminded DeLauro that the administration was not obligated to
allow the public to comment on a preliminary plan.
"There is no requirement that it be submitted for public review and
comment, we published it as part of our commitment to public
participation in the development of our formal (final) plan," Klein
HUD, however, requires the final plan to be subject to public comment.
Congress appropriated $16 billion in HUD Community Development Block
Grants as part of a massive disaster relief aid bill approved in
January. The bill required HUD to allocate one-third of the money
within 60 days of approval of the bill. Most of that $5.4 billion
"first tranche" of money was allocated to New York and New Jersey,
which suffered the majority of the damage in Hurricane Sandy.
Connecticut's allocation of $71.8 million -- and all of the HUD grants
-- are subject to a 5 percent reduction because of sequestration, or
recent across-the-board, automatic spending cuts.
To receive the funds, Connecticut and the other jurisdictions must
secure HUD's approval of an "action plan" to spend the money.
HUD has already approved New Jersey and New York's action plans.
Connecticut lags behind.
Malloy's proposal is slated to be considered by the state legislature
Tuesday, another step toward a final plan. HUD must receive the final
plan at the beginning of June.
Meanwhile, mayors hope that the final plan will address their concerns.
In his public comments, Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia said it is
"unclear" if the city's storm-damaged Washington Village housing
development would be eligible for aid.
Moccia also said it's been months since Sandy hit in October, and
homeowners with "unmet needs" dipped into their own pockets to repair
their homes. He's concerned they may not be eligible for CDBG grant
money since they no longer have "unmet needs" even if they depleted
their savings to repair their homes.
"They are now one hiccup away from financial disaster," Moccia said.
The Malloy administration released its proposed plan the afternoon of
April 19, a Friday.
New Haven officials said they were unaware of the plan until it was too
late to provide comment in the seven-day window that was allowed.
Mark Barnhart, Fairfield's director of community and economic
development, was on vacation and also unaware of the governor's plan
until it was too late.
"My bad," he wrote an administration official in a letter that conveyed
some concerns he hoped the administration would consider.
Barnhart said Fairfield already receives CDBG housing grant money and
the city has a program that would be a good alternative to the
"While I appreciate the need for the State to efficiently distribute
and timely expend these funds as well as to ensure compliance with all
applicable HUD requirements, use of these existing local programs
should merit further consideration," he wrote.
In March, HUD made a second allocation of CDBG grants, in the total
amount of $500 million, to Missouri, Alabama, Texas and other states
that have suffered recent disasters unrelated to Sandy.
That leaves about $10 billion of undistributed CDBG grant money. HUD
spokesman Brian Sullivan said the agency does not know how that money
will be allocated or when.
He did say HUD would use the most up-to-date information on the unmet
needs in each state to distribute the rest of the money.
In her letter to DeLauro, Klein said, "we anticipate an additional
allocation of federal funding under (the CDBG program) to be targeted
specifically to infrastructure and mitigation-only projects some time
later this year."
Going Up a Few Feet, and Hoping
Avoid a Storm’s Path
By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS, NYTIMES
April 15, 2013
Jim and Leah Hogan are doing some work on their house. The ground floor
is stripped down to the bones, the lawn is all dug up, and sunlight is
streaming inside from unusual places, like up through gaps in the
floorboard and right in through the fireplace.
Their home, hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, was nestled onto a bed of
steel beams about two weeks ago and jacked up eight feet into the air,
where it rests today on neatly stacked piles of thick wooden beams. The
hope is that the next time water comes rushing through their
neighborhood, in Rowayton, Conn., this house, at its new height, will
“It looks maniacal, and it looks worse in person,” said Ms. Hogan, who
described the wooden supports as resembling a monster-size Jenga set.
“Though when I got up there and saw my views,” she continued, “it was
really my first pleasant surprise of this whole journey.”
Up and down waterfront communities that were raked over by Hurricane
Sandy, homeowners who want to stay put are hoping that they can still
get out of the way of the next storm by elevating their houses out of
the water’s reach. Now that the dust has settled and some insurance
checks have gone out, the work of hoisting entire homes up into the
air, with stairs and cabinets and even some furniture still inside, has
“We don’t want to move and we don’t want to get flooded again, so that
made it pretty clear what we had to do,” Mr. Hogan said. “What was left
was to go up.”
In the coming years, tens of thousands of homeowners in the tristate
area can expect to choose between elevating their homes, like the
Hogans, or paying higher insurance rates for keeping it low.
To elevate a house, workers generally begin by punching holes in the
foundation and threading long steel beams through them to support the
weight of the house from underneath. Then they raise it up with
hydraulic jacking machines, very slowly, pausing every few inches to
add wooden supports, called cribbing.
Once it is up high, there it stays, suspended as the foundation is
built up to meet it.
Dayna Sproule, who lives just a few blocks from the beach in Fairfield,
Conn., said she was standing in her living room shortly after the storm
surrounded by soaked wreckage when a carpenter told her that her house
could go higher. She did not believe it.
“I thought at first he was kidding; I didn’t think you could actually
do it,” she said. “It’s got a big footprint. It’s a house!”
But up it went just a few weeks ago, shingled and elegant and suspended
against the sky, dangling about seven feet above the two stone steps
that used to lead to the front door.
“It’s sort of upsetting seeing your house like that,” Ms. Sproule said.
Ken Miccio, a New York City firefighter who stood on the beach last
week and watched as half a dozen men stood underneath his house in
Roxbury, Queens, jacking it up, said it was hard for him to look.
“I wouldn’t want to be under there,” Mr. Miccio said. “And I’m a
fireman! I’ve been in some crazy spaces.”
As one might imagine, the process of getting a house safely off the
ground without destroying it is not cheap. Government officials and
industry professionals estimate it most often costs from $10,000 to
$100,000, and perhaps even more, to lift a house, depending on its
size, weight and how it was built — this range does not include the
cost of a new foundation, a new set of stairs or any other expenses one
might encounter down that rabbit hole.
An analysis by New York City estimates it would cost about $10 billion
to raise every residential structure in the city’s current advisory
flood maps. (FEMA is expected to release new flood maps for the city by
June, as part of a process started long before the storm. Maps made up
of conservative estimates were released earlier this year to help
people eager to rebuild begin their planning.)
There are government loan programs and grants available to help pay for
the process, and owners of substantially damaged homes may qualify for
up to a $30,000 payout from the National Flood Insurance Program to
help bring the house up to current standards. But in general, much of
the burden will fall on homeowners, and many people will not be able to
Nonetheless, many homes will be required to go up.
If a home is considered substantially damaged by the storm — an
official distinction that means the cost to repair it to its pre-storm
condition will be at least 50 percent of the value of the house itself,
not including the land — then it must be raised to meet the current
flood safety standard. That required height, which varies from one
stretch of land to next, is determined by FEMA and enforced by local
communities. States and local governments can also require homeowners
to go higher.
Most homes were not so badly damaged by the hurricane, and thus are not
required to go higher. But this will not protect their owners from
higher insurance costs if they leave a house below what FEMA considers
a safe distance from the ground.
New York City does not have an official count of how many homes have
been elevated so far, but companies like Wolfe House and Building
Movers, which raised the Hogans’ house, and Expert House Movers, say
they have much more business than is customary for this time of year,
even twice as much, and business is only expected to increase in the
In addition to challenges of engineering and cost, there are aesthetic
concerns to address as well when a house is raised. What was meant to
be the first floor is suddenly 5 or 10 feet in the air, and sometimes,
that looks terrible.
“A lot of people’s homes are not going to be very pretty when they’re
done,” said Peter Cummings, who along with his partner Jose-Miguel
Albaine, has designed the Hogans’ revamped house, and done so to look
as if that height had been intended all along, he said.
While their house gets put back together, Mr. and Ms. Hogan; their two
sons, Jamie and Jack; and their unfortunately named 4-year-old Labrador
retriever, Stormy, have gotten to stay in their same idyllic little
neighborhood, the Pine Point Association, which is sandwiched between a
creek and a private beach on the Long Island Sound. Their neighbor is
letting them stay for free while he tries to sell the house, which is
listed with Halstead Property for $1.695 million.
And right across the street from their own home, another house, 1
Captains Walk, just came on the market. It is also listed with Halstead
Property, with an asking price of $4.395 million. The house, which is
only about 12 years old, is built higher up than its older neighbors,
and during Hurricane Sandy, not a drop of water got inside.
“That’s a huge factor,” said Nancy Rawls Dauk, the real estate broker
selling the property. “It makes it much more valuable.”
The height of the house was factored into its asking price, she
continued. It pushed it up substantially.
FEMA to Connecticut: We're going to be here
for a while
Neena Satija, CT MIRROR
November 27, 2012
Nearly a month after Superstorm Sandy hit the region, thousands of
Connecticut residents are still in need of help, federal and state
officials said Tuesday. Speaking at a federally designated
Disaster Recovery Center in downtown
Bridgeport, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate promised, "We will not stop
until everyone's life is back to normal."
More than 300 FEMA staff members are on the ground in Connecticut,
Fugate said: "How long is FEMA going to be here? We're going to be here
a while...we're talking years."
Close to 10,000 residents have asked for help from the federal
government in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and about $8.5 million
has been distributed to them. That does not include claims made
larger businesses or by local governments and government
agencies. Gov. Dannel Malloy said he expects that number to
continue to grow.
About 800 applications for assistance were made just in the past eight
"We will continue to work. People will see recovery," Malloy said.
The state is still not ready to release a dollar-figure damage
assessment. Malloy said he expected it would be far less than those in
New York and New Jersey, since the impact of the storm was less severe
in Connecticut, and also because Connecticut residents tend to be more
insured than those in neighboring states.
Still, "this is our third bite of the apple in a very short period of
time," Malloy said, referring to Sandy as well as Tropical Storm Irene
and the October snowstorm, which hit the state hard last fall. The
number of requests for help after Sandy so far is higher than the
number from last year's two storms combined.
While FEMA does not keep track of the number of people who may have
been displaced temporarily or permanently from their homes, evidence
suggests there is a contingent of such people in Connecticut. Nearly
all of those asking for help from FEMA applied for "housing
assistance," which includes rental assistance. But those needing just
home repairs are also included in that number.
In Bridgeport, Mayor Bill Finch said the suffering of residents is
still acute, especially in poor neighborhoods where people went several
days without power and lost valuable foodstuffs.
"I think we neglected the poor people and the elderly people," he said.
"...I want to see a greater sensitivity to those in need."
Finch had sharply criticized United Illuminating for what he called a
slow response to restoring power to some areas of Bridgeport. In some
cases, he said, schools could have opened earlier had utilities done
the job quicker. On Tuesday, he called for utilities to update
their response plans to
include factors such as poverty in their decisions to prioritize
certain areas for power restoration.
Responding to Finch's comments, Malloy said that Finch "has made that
argument forcefully ... we'll look at the points the mayor has made."
While the total bill that individuals, businesses and local governments
ultimately hand to FEMA will be hefty, Fugate said he expects there to
be enough money for the ongoing relief efforts. In the long term,
though, "we will need additional funds," he said.
Those funds would include grants for communities to rebuild -- and to
rethink that process.
Malloy said the state is reviewing its infrastructure along the
coastline and taking a look at whether building codes need to be
updated. "We lost more roofs than we should have," he said. He later
added, "we probably should get away from multiple rebuild of
properties," referring to the fact that many property owners who
suffered damage to their homes were still making repairs from last
Those changes will take time -- but time is limited, Malloy warned. Had
Sandy not changed her course and sped up, hitting Connecticut less hard
than expected, the consequences could have been even more dire. Malloy
said the buildup in the Long Island Sound area would have caused damage
to downtown Bridgeport, Greenwich, Stamford and Fairfield on the same
scale as the damage incurred in New York City.
"We dodged a bullet," he said.
Storm-Battered Shoreline Gets A
Lift, One House At A Time
The Hartford Courant
BY DENISE BUFFA, email@example.com
4:46 PM EDT, August 3, 2013
Clay Markham waved to a neighbor on East Broadway in Milford one
sweltering day in July.
"You look exhausted. You've been lifting those houses all by
yourself?'' the elderly man quipped.
Yes, Markham lifts houses for a living. But not with his bare hands, of
He uses machinery and men to raise the structures high in the air so
they can be put down on new foundations -- like posts, pilings or piers
-- that will prevent damage when the Long Island Sound swells from
Business has been booming for Markham, who runs High Caliber Contractor
LLC out of Milford, since tropical storm Irene and storm Sandy hit
Connecticut's coastline in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The storms
rocked some houses along the shoreline off their foundations and filled
others with water.
"I've always stayed busy over the past 20 years lifting and moving
houses, but it's extremely busy right now along the shorefront areas,"
Markham said. "I think I was doing 30 a year before Irene...Now, we're
doing two a week, at least."
That's triple the business.
The complexion of Connecticut's coastline is changing. While some
homeowners are choosing to lift their homes in flood hazard zones to
prevent future flood damage, others are being forced to lift them. The
Federal Emergency Management Agency says if the cost of improvements or
the cost to repair damage amounts to more than 50 percent of the market
value of a building, it must be brought up to current floodplain
In Fairfield, 30 homes have been raised and 30 more will probably be
lifted as well. In Westport, nearly 30 houses are being lifted. And in
Old Saybrook, 10 houses are either in the process of being jacked up or
will be jacked. All this according to town officials.
Tom Ivers of the Milford Department of Community Development estimated
4,000 to 5,000 houses in that city, which boasts 17 miles of coastline,
may have to, "by code," be elevated at some point in the future.
"It certainly does provide some peace of mind," Ivers said.
Markham -- who says he's done work in Madison, Old Greenwich, Westport
and East Haven -- isn't the only house lifter out there. The work is so
plentiful that contractors have come to Connecticut from other states,
including Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
"You've got everybody and their brothers coming in from all over the
states to do this," said another Milford contractor, Hilding Nelson of
Historical Preservations, House Lifters.
Still, Markham - who dons a white hard hat and glasses -- seems to have
his share of the business that he loves.
"At any given time, I have 10 to 15 houses on equipment," he said.
Once a general contractor, Markham decided to specialize in moving
structures because he found it more rewarding.
"I wanted something that was a challenge to do. It was a challenge to
grow my own business -- and there wasn't a lot of people doing it," he
said. "It's a challenge to get the jobs. The jobs are a challenge to do.
Markham, a 51-year-old married father of two, lives on the water in
Milford's Silver Sands area, one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by
Sandy. And he's lifting many of his neighbors' houses using "unified
hydraulic jacking systems," which have a central control for monitoring
each hydraulic jacks performance.
The cost of a lift could be anywhere from $12,000 to $30,000 -- and
that doesn't include building a foundation, which could bring the bill
to $75,000 to $100,000.
"If you're going to bring it up to flood code, it's a lot of money,"
The house lifter, who stands 5-foot-2, stood under a Cooper Avenue
house he had just lifted. He was dwarfed by the structure. But while he
may be small in stature, Markham has a big heart by at least one
"Clay is a great guy -- and he's been so helpful during this whole
process," said Tim McFadden, who owns the two-story, 1,800-square-foot
house at 10 Cooper Ave. that towered over Markham. "He's kind of like
helping all the neighbors out there, not killing on the price...He
knows what we're going through."
Sandy skirted his home, McFadden said, but Irene "wiped out" the whole
first floor. He decided to lift it rather than leave it.
While other structural movers tried to soak him, estimating it would
cost at least $25,000 to lift the family homestead -- where he and his
wife reared their three children -- McFadden said Markham charged him
less than $20,000.
That's a big deal to a homeowner who is suddenly facing a $75,000 to
$100,000 emergency project, including the costs of an architect and
soil and structural engineers plus building a new foundation. McFadden
is hoping for some government aid.
Markham said he enjoys helping others.
"I don't want it to sound like I'm out there doing it for free," he
said. "But I definitely like giving people advice on what they're doing
and which way they should go with their house."
Despite the help that may be available, some property owners are
bailing out. Still, others are buying in.
Markham lifted the once flooded 915-square-foot bungalow at 15 Tremont
St., which sold -- as is -- for $44,000 in January to real estate
investor Heiko Bosler.
"I took it off a friend's hands who did not want to deal with it,"
Bosler, a Milford resident, said after climbing down a ladder from a
door of the raised structure to greet Markham another recent day.
Bosler says he's investing at least $110,000 -- including the cost for
Markham to lift it -- plus his own labor, which he estimates is worth
$20,000 to $30,000. He hopes to get at least $230,000 for the
two-bedroom, one bathroom ranch when it's done.
"The goal is 50 grand (in profit)," said Bosler, who conceded it's
difficult to predict whether he'll be able to cash in on the lift
because there are no comparable houses on the market.
Markham recalls getting into house-lifting after storm Beth struck the
Northeast in 1992, bringing record high tides and snow. Afterward, he
bought a few properties in the Silver Sands area -- lifting a couple of
them -- and then selling them.
On average, he lifts houses 7 to 10 feet. But he says he once lifted a
house 17 feet, so a first floor could be built under it. Among the
highest elevations he's done is a Clinton house he says he raised 19.5
feet, placing it on pilings.
Typically, the homes are temporarily hoisted 2 to 3 feet higher than
their final perch -- the new foundation -- to which they must be
Scott DeVico, a spokesman for the state Department for Emergency
Services and Public Protection, said, "I think Irene and Sandy have
opened up a lot of people's eyes in the state that hurricanes, tropical
storms, they do affect us here in Connecticut and, when they do, they
can have a devastating effect on our shoreline communities."
One of the results: lifting houses.
"We're either raising them or razing them -- raising with an 's' or
razing with a 'z'," Westport building official Steve Smith said.
Copyright © 2013, The Hartford
As Coasts Rebuild and U.S.
Repeatedly, the Critics Ask Why
By JUSTIN GILLIS and FELICITY BARRINGER, NYTIMES
November 18, 2012
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. — Even in the off season, the pastel beach
houses lining a skinny strip of sand here are a testament to the good
life. They are also a monument to the generosity of the federal
The western end of this Gulf Coast island has proved to be one of the
most hazardous places in the country for waterfront property. Since
1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and
knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand
onto the roads. Yet time and again, checks from Washington have
allowed the town to put itself back together.
Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on
subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually
with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep
rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If history is any guide, a large
fraction of the federal money allotted to New York, New Jersey and
other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy — an amount that could
exceed $30 billion — will be used the same way.
Tax money will go toward putting things back as they were, essentially
duplicating the vulnerability that existed before the hurricane.
“We’re Americans, damn it,” said Robert S. Young, a North Carolina
geologist who has studied the way communities like Dauphin Island
respond to storms. “Retreat is a dirty word.”
This island community of roughly 1,300 year-round residents has become
a symbol of that reflexive policy. Like many other beachfront
towns, Dauphin Island has benefited from the Stafford Act, a federal
law that taps the United States Treasury for 75 percent or more of the
cost of fixing storm-damaged infrastructure, like roads and
utilities. At least $80 million, adjusted for inflation, has gone
into patching up this one island since 1979 — more than $60,000 for
every permanent resident. That does not include payments of $72 million
to homeowners from the highly subsidized federal flood insurance
Lately, scientists, budget-conscious lawmakers and advocacy groups
across the political spectrum have argued that these subsidies waste
money, put lives at risk and make no sense in an era of changing
climate and rising seas. Some of them contend that reconstruction
money should be tightly coupled with requirements that coastal
communities begin reducing their vulnerability in the short run and
that towns along shorelines facing the largest risks make plans for
withdrawal over the long term.
“The best thing that could possibly come out of Sandy is if the
political establishment was willing to say, ‘Let’s have a conversation
about how we do this differently the next time,’ ” said Dr. Young, a
coastal geologist who directs the Program for the Study of Developed
Shorelines at Western Carolina University. “We need to identify those
areas — in advance — that it no longer makes sense to rebuild.”
A coalition in Washington called SmarterSafer.org, made up of
environmentalists, libertarians and budget watchdogs, contends that the
subsidies have essentially become a destructive, unaffordable
“We simply can’t go on subsidizing enormous numbers of people to live
in areas that are prone to huge natural disasters,” said Eli Lehrer,
the president of the conservative R Street Institute, part of the
This argument might be gaining some traction. Earlier this year,
Congress passed changes to the federal flood insurance program that are
supposed to raise historically low premiums and reduce homeowner
incentives for rebuilding in the most hazardous areas. Less
widely known about than flood insurance are the subsidies from the
Stafford Act, the federal law governing the response to emergencies
like hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes. It kicks in when the
president declares a federal disaster that exceeds the response
capacity of state and local governments.
Experts say the law is at least as important as the flood program in
motivating reconstruction after storms. In the same way flood insurance
shields families from the financial consequences of rebuilding in risky
areas, the Stafford Act shields local and state governments from the
full implications of their decisions on land use. Under the law,
the federal government committed more than $80 billion to disaster
recovery from 2004 to 2011, according to a report from the Government
Accountability Office. While billions of dollars went to relieve
immediate suffering, including cash payments to families left homeless
by storms, nearly half of the money was spent helping state and local
governments clean and restore damaged areas and rebuild infrastructure.
At times, local governments have tried to use the money to reduce their
vulnerability to future disasters, but they complain that they often
run into bureaucratic roadblocks with the Federal Emergency Management
Agency. For instance, after flooding from Hurricane Irene washed
out many culverts in Vermont last year, many towns built bigger
culverts to handle future floods. But they are still fighting with the
agency over reimbursement.
W. Craig Fugate, the agency’s administrator, acknowledged in an
interview that “as a nation, we have not yet figured out” how to use
federal incentives to improve resiliency and discourage excessive risks.
If private property owners want to assume the risks, “that’s one
thing,” he said. “But if we find that we as taxpayers are assuming that
risk without benefit, then we need to rethink that.”
Dauphin Island is a case study in the way the federal subsidies have
enabled repetitive risk taking. Orrin H. Pilkey, an emeritus professor
at Duke University who is renowned for his research in costal zones,
described the situation here as a “scandal.”
The island, four miles off the Alabama coast, was for centuries the
site of a small fishing and farming village reachable only by boat. But
in the 1950s, the Chamber of Commerce in nearby Mobile decided to link
it to the mainland by bridge and sell lots for vacation homes.
Then Hurricane Frederic struck in 1979, ravaging the island and
destroying the bridge.
President Jimmy Carter flew over to inspect the damage. Rex Rainer, the
Alabama highway director at the time, recalled several years later that
the president “told us to build everything back just like it was and
send him the bill.”
The era of taxpayer largess toward Dauphin Island had begun. With $33
million of federal money, local leaders built a fancier, higher bridge
that encouraged more development in the 1980s. Much of that
construction occurred on the island’s western end, a long, narrow sand
bar sitting only a few feet above the Gulf of Mexico.
“You can always look back and say, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t have done that,’
” said Mayor Jeff Collier, who noted that many of the decisions were
made before he took office over a decade ago. “But we can’t turn the
In the 1990s, big storms started hitting the island roughly every three
years. Two back-to-back hurricanes, Ivan in 2004 and Katrina in 2005,
destroyed more than 300 homes. Most have not been rebuilt, but scores
have been. Some beachfront building lots are now inundated by the Gulf
of Mexico. The bulk of the town’s reconstruction money has been
spent on the western end. That means many of the prime beneficiaries
have not been permanent residents, but rather vacation homeowners from
places like New Orleans and Atlanta.
Since 1988, federal figures show, Dauphin Island property owners have
paid only $9.3 million in premiums to the national flood insurance
program, but they have received $72.2 million in payments for their
damaged homes. Figures from a federal contractor show that the average
island resident pays less than $700 a year for flood insurance, though
a few do pay as much as $3,000.
On Dauphin Island and in many other beachfront communities, the federal
subsidies have helped people replace small beach shacks with larger,
more valuable homes. That is a main reason the nation’s costs of storm
recovery are roughly doubling every decade, even after adjusting for
inflation. Dauphin Island has tried to limit its risk, imposing
stricter building codes that go beyond federal requirements. New houses
now must be built high on pilings to survive storm surges.
Local residents argue that federal help is warranted because their
erosion problems have been worsened by government dredging in the
nearby Mobile Ship Channel, which some scientists agree has helped
starve the Dauphin Island beaches of sand. And residents say that
simply letting the island’s western end wash away would leave the
mainland and its marshes, rich with seafood, more exposed to storms.
People here have formed strong emotional attachments to their island.
“There’s a lot of wildlife and a lot of bird life, and it’s just a
great place to relax,” said Jay Minus, a lawyer in Mobile who owns two
homes on the western end. “You can sit on the porch and watch the
dolphins swim past your house.”
Just this summer, Hurricane Isaac dealt the island a moderate blow,
leaving most homes unscathed but managing to do $3 million worth of
damage to public infrastructure. On a recent day, bulldozers crawled
around the island, scooping up tons of sand to replenish the beach. As
in the past, the town will most likely pay only 15 percent of the
repair costs. Coastal geologists describe western Dauphin Island
as a textbook example of a place that should never have been developed.
Scientists say that climate change will most likely speed up the rise
of sea levels in the coming decades and that many more coastal
communities will face repetitive risks.
With little pressure coming from Washington or state governments, only
a handful of communities have started thinking seriously about a new
“We need a plan,” Dr. Young said.
Given the political realities, however, it is by no means clear how to
move forward. In some flood plains, public money has been used to buy
out vulnerable property owners. Entire towns were moved out of the
Mississippi River flood plain in the 1990s, for instance, saving money
over the long haul.
Several oceanfront communities have resisted such proposals, though
one, in Texas, consented to a buyout plan after being badly damaged by
Hurricane Ike in 2008. The federal government, despite its willingness
to spend tens of billions of dollars repairing communities after
storms, has not put up the kind of buyout money that might convince
more owners to walk away.
Because buyout proposals often take years to put together, several
experts suggested that they be drawn up in advance with maps of
properties targeted for acquisition. Then, if those homes are damaged,
state or local leaders could move swiftly after a storm, offering the
owners voluntary buyouts before they make up their minds to rebuild.
Mr. Collier, the mayor, has long heard the argument that a rising sea
will ultimately force a retreat from Dauphin Island and similar places.
“I’m not going to say that’s wrong,” he said. “But somebody needs to
tell me, how are we going to get there?”
that number - close to the reported budget deficit($365 million)
Sandy storm damage tops $360M
Ken Dixon, CT POST
Updated 3:09 p.m., Wednesday, November 14, 2012
HARTFORD -- Damage to Connecticut business and homes from last month's
superstorm has topped at least $360 million, Hearst Connecticut
Newspapers has learned.
In an interview this afternoon, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy expects the
preliminary applications for assistance to keep growing and that he
looks forward to working with the governors of New York and New Jersey
in seeking additional funding for major infrastructure projects.
"These things will be coming in for a much-longer period of time," said
Malloy in the Capitol, stressing that the damage will surpass last
year's August and October storms.
"It clearly raises some other serious questions based on the tidal
surge that we experienced, which was a record from New Haven down
through Greenwich," Malloy said. "I think but for the grace of God, we
ducked what could have been a much worse outcome."
He said that "hardening" roads, shoreline water protection,
transportation systems and other infrastructure considerations are all
part of the longer-term effects of the storm.
"This is a damage number, not a hardening-our-infrastructure
number and those are two completely different things," Malloy said.
Three breakwaters in Stonington were also damaged in the October 29
UI says cost of restoring power
after Sandy may be up to $40 million
By The Associated Press
New Haven Register
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
NEW HAVEN — United Illuminating's parent company says the cost to
restore power following Superstorm Sandy is between $35 million and $40
million, which it will seek from ratepayers in a request to Connecticut
UIL Holdings Corp. outlined the cost estimates in a federal regulatory
filing previewing a presentation by James P. Torgerson, president and
chief executive, at an industry conference in Phoenix on Tuesday.
UIL said about 40 percent of the costs were for damaged poles, wires
and other equipment along Connecticut's battered shoreline. The
remainder was for salaries, fuel for trucks and other operating
expenses related to restoring power. The cost is higher than for
storms between 2009 and June 30, which UI said totaled $26.1 million.
The state's largest utility, Connecticut Light & Power, has not
publicly estimated storm costs.
Meanwhile, federal officials say more than 7,000 property owners in
Connecticut have applied for help to recover from Superstorm Sandy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded about $4 million
for state residents forced out of their homes by the storm that pounded
the Northeast on Oct. 29.
The Connecticut Post reports (http://bit.ly/UEmosM ) that FEMA
spokeswoman Rita Egan said Monday agency workers have received
applications from 7,271 property owners statewide. Most applications
were from residents in hard-hit shoreline towns in Fairfield and New
Egan says about 3,466 applicants have asked for home inspections and
about 2,000 have been completed by the agency's field workers.
Of the nearly $4 million in FEMA awards approved by Monday, all but
about $200,000 were for housing assistance.
The remainder was for personal property loss.
Flood Insurance, Already
Faces New Stress
By ERIC LIPTON, FELICITY BARRINGER and MARY WILLIAMS WALSH
WASHINGTON — The federal government’s flood insurance program, which
fell $18 billion into debt after Hurricane Katrina, is once again at
risk of running out of money as the daunting reconstruction from
Hurricane Sandy gets under way.
Early estimates suggest that Hurricane Sandy will rank as the nation’s
second-worst storm for claims paid out by the National Flood Insurance
Program. With 115,000 new claims submitted and thousands more being
filed each day, the cost could reach $7 billion at a time when the
program is allowed, by law, to add only an additional $3 billion to its
Congress, just this summer, overhauled the flawed program by allowing
large increases in premiums paid by vacation home owners and those
repeatedly hit by floods. But critics say taxpayer money should not be
used to bail it out again — essentially subsidizing the rebuilding of
homes in risky areas — without Congress’ mandating even more radical
“We are now just throwing money to support something that is going to
end up creating more victims and costing more money in the future,”
Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon, said of the
program, which insures 5.7 million homes nationwide near coasts or
Even with the new rules, critics argue, it will be many years, if ever,
before many homeowners are required to pay premiums that accurately
reflect the market cost of the coverage. Some communities have long
resisted imposing more appropriate building codes to prevent damage,
putting the program at further risk of devastating losses when storms
like Hurricane Sandy hit. And despite some efforts in recent years,
many of the flood maps the program relies on are out of date — which
can have expensive, and even deadly, consequences in this era of rising
sea levels if homeowners are not cognizant of the risks they face.
The program’s giant debt makes matters worse because simply covering
the interest owed the Treasury consumes from $90 million to $750
million a year, depending on interest rates. This means it is much
harder to build reserves for future catastrophes.
But others on Capitol Hill argue that the changes adopted in July are
an important first step, and that Congress must give the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, which runs the program, a chance to apply
them before any additional changes are considered.
Already, 44 members of the House of Representatives have called for
Congress to appropriate whatever money is needed to help victims
recover from Hurricane Sandy, and aides on Capitol Hill say that under
such extreme losses, they expect lawmakers will do what they have to do
to keep the program solvent — even amid a federal budget crisis.
“It is a program we require people to participate in, so we have to
make sure it is adequately funded to handle claims,” said
Representative Timothy H. Bishop, Democrat of New York, whose district
in Long Island has more than 100 miles of coastline. “You can’t say:
‘Awfully sorry. Hope this works out for you.’ ”
The federal government’s flood insurance program, established in 1968,
is one of the world’s largest. The insurance is mandatory for
homeowners with a federally backed mortgage if they live in an area
subject to flooding at least once every 100 years. The average annual
flood insurance premium is about $615, but for homeowners in areas at
higher risk of flooding, an annual policy can cost from $1,200 to
$3,000, according to Steve Harty, president of National Flood Services,
a claims-processing company, depending on the level of coverage.
The federal program collects about $3.5 billion in annual premiums. But
in four of the past eight years, claims will have eclipsed premiums,
most glaringly in 2005 — the year of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma
— when claims totaled $17.7 billion. Private insurance companies have
long avoided offering flood insurance to homeowners.
“It’s like rat poison to them,” said Tony Bullock, an insurance
industry lobbyist, explaining how the risk outweighs the benefit for
private insurers. “You need the federal backstop.”
But the program is still a moneymaker for the private insurance
industry. Even though these companies bear none of the risk, they take,
on average, $1 billion a year of the premiums the government collects,
as compensation for help in selling and servicing the policies. Federal
auditors argue the payments are excessive.
FEMA officials declined to address whether changes beyond the already
passed legislation are needed to strengthen the program.
“These reforms are being implemented,” the agency said in a written
statement. “Right now, we’re focused on helping survivors.”
More than one million property owners who live in homes at least four
decades old also have historically paid only about 40 percent of the
estimated true cost of the coverage the government provides — in large
part because of lobbying by the real estate industry, mortgage brokers,
homeowners associations and other groups to keep federal authorities
from charging more.
Perhaps the most troubling problem, program officials acknowledge, is
that only a tiny share of enrolled properties accounts for a giant
share of the overall claims, as the properties are repeatedly flooded
and rebuilt in low coastal regions and in hurricane flight paths.
One Biloxi, Miss., property valued at $183,000 flooded 15 times over a
decade, costing the program $1.47 million, according to federal data
provided by the agency to a member of Congress. Another in Humble,
Tex., has resulted in over $2 million in flood payouts even though it
was worth just $116,000.
An analysis of two decades of claims by the Wharton Risk Center at the
University of Pennsylvania shows that certain states, like Texas, which
has the second-largest number of policies, pay much less in insurance
premiums than the homeowners there collect in damage claims, evidence
of the inherent inequity in the national program.
The problem of repetitive claims is much less prevalent in coastal New
York and New Jersey, where FEMA estimates Hurricane Sandy flooded
100,000 insured homes.
But homeowners in those two states have fought measures that would
reduce storm damage. Barrier island communities in the Northeast, for
example, have resisted overtures from the Army Corps of Engineers to
build sand dunes as a natural flood barrier, arguing that the dunes
would block ocean views or harm the local tourism industry.
Other communities, like Tuckerton, N.J., have failed to take steps
recommended by FEMA to better protect homes after flooding through a
program that pushes owners to elevate new homes above minimum required
heights or to move flood-prone buildings.
Hurricane Sandy damaged more than 300 of the 660 houses in Tuckerton’s
beach area, including 22 that were washed away, according to Phil Reed,
the town building inspector.
Fifteen years ago, Don Horneff, 74, had his Tuckerton house raised on
pilings nine feet above ground level. As a result, he said, Hurricane
Sandy’s floodwaters ran only through his basement.
That is the kind of protective measure that federal officials want
mandated into all new or rebuilt homes in flood zones.
Last week, piles of mattresses, fencing, chairs, appliances and other
debris sat outside many of the homes on Mr. Horneff’s street — and a
backhoe worked to clear the mess. “All around me, the homes that were
lower, most of them will have to be demolished,” he said, surveying his
neighborhood. “It’s very sad. They have lost everything.”
The pending costs for Hurricane Sandy would have been even higher if a
greater share of residents along the East Coast had signed up for the
insurance, which is voluntary outside the 100-year-flood zones. There
would also have been more premium dollars, though not enough to pay the
The fact that many homeowners hit by Hurricane Sandy have no flood or
homeowners insurance could prompt Congress to provide assistance to the
uninsured, too, as happened after Hurricane Katrina, further raising
the cost to the federal Treasury.
Officials in New Jersey and New York say the federal government must
move quickly to put the flood insurance program back on stable footing,
even if it means increasing the federal deficit.
“All we want in our community — not any more and absolutely not less —
is what is due to Sea Isle,” said Leonard C. Desiderio, the mayor of
Sea Isle City, N.J., one of the coastal towns hit hard by Hurricane
Hurricane Katrina put the program so deeply into debt that federal
officials have acknowledged they will never be able to fully repay the
$18 billion Treasury-financed loan that bailed the program out.
FEMA, as a result of this year’s legislation, has the authority to
raise premiums by as much as 25 percent per year over the next five
years. The increases will be imposed mostly on vacation homes and other
properties that repeatedly flood, but whose owners have paid far below
market insurance rates. The legislation also authorizes the creation of
a national reserve fund to help the program handle major flood
catastrophes, and urges Congress to appropriate $400 million a year to
update the thousands of out-of-date flood control maps. That would
likely force new homes to be built elevated off the ground in spots
where rising sea levels or recent major storms have had an impact.
Lawmakers who pushed the legislation call it major progress in fixing
the program’s well-documented failings.
“The program is on a much more responsible path than it had been just
one year ago,” said Zachary Cikanek, a spokesman for Representative
Judy Biggert, Republican of Illinois, who co-sponsored the legislation.
But others say much more needs to be done. The federal government
should ensure continuous coverage in flood-prone areas, spreading the
risk among a larger pool of homeowners, who now often allow their
coverage to lapse, said Robert Hunter, an insurance administrator in
the Ford and Carter administrations.
The 20,000 communities that participate should also be adopting
stronger building or flood prevention codes the way Florida has since
Hurricane Andrew did $23 billion worth of damage in 1992. Mr. Hunter
pointed to earthquake-prone Chile, where builders must assume the
liability for catastrophic earthquake damage for 10 years after
construction. “This program still encourages unwise construction
instead of discouraging it, and to me that means the program has
failed, even with the reforms Congress just adopted,” Mr. Hunter said.
“People are being killed and their properties are being destroyed
because of a government that gives the false impression that there is
less of a flood risk than there really is.”
Eric Lipton reported from Washington,
Felicity Barringer from San Francisco, and Mary Williams Walsh from
Philadelphia. Jon Hurdle contributed reporting from Tuckerton, N.J.
Insurance process begins in
Rob Varnon, Stamford ADVOCATE
Published 11:08 p.m., Sunday, November 4, 2012
People looking to rebuild their lives after Superstorm Sandy destroyed
and damaged their homes may now have another struggle on their hands:
Navigating the often-frustrating claims process with their insurance
Sandy's destructive path was much wider than last year's Tropical Storm
Irene, which resulted in an eye-popping $240 million in paid claims and
taught policy holders and regulators some valuable lessons that may
make life easier this time around:
People won't be paying exorbitant hurricane deductibles for Sandy --
which technically hit land as a tropical storm -- thanks to a new law
enacted last December.
Though there is a lag between when you file a claim and when you get
paid, insurers are required by law to pay in a timely way or face hefty
Residents also should be aware that homeowners insurance does not cover
flooding, and that if you don't have flood insurance you can forget
about collecting for flood damage on your homeowner's policy
And people also can expect their premiums to go up.
Jan Morris, whose Hillside Avenue home in Milford is across the street
from a row of houses that are no longer habitable, said she felt lucky
to survive the storm with only roof damage. The front half of her roof
will have to be replaced, but unlike when Irene hit, she isn't facing
the hurricane deductible.
"I did have a claim for windows in Irene," Morris said. But her
deductible was $7,000, so she paid for that out of pocket. "They will
be covering the roof this year. Go figure."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last week warned insurers not to charge hurricane
deductibles, which often are a percentage of the home's total value and
can be quite high.
Now people will be paying only their standard home or flood insurance
deductibles for repairs.
"The state moved very swiftly to alert the industry that this storm --
although devastating to so many -- did not meet the criteria for a
hurricane deductible under state law. Homeowners will not have to pay
high-cost hurricane deductibles for damage resulting from this storm,"
Donna Tommelleo, an Insurance Department spokeswoman, said insurers
face fines if they don't pay claims quickly, and that people should
contact the department's consumer advocate if they have problems
But Tommelleo said the insurance industry in Connecticut has a good
record for paying out claims.
"For Irene, we got 250 complaints," she said, noting not all were
substantiated. "But when you put that in perspective, the industry had
60,000 claims from Irene and paid out almost $240 million."
Ron Kalb, an agent with Siegel Insurance Agency in Danbury, said
smaller repairs usually are paid out more quickly. The home or business
owner often is told to survey the damage, take photos and then hire a
contractor to do the work with the bill to be submitted later.
But a total rebuild does take longer, not only as the insurer must
document the costs but because the design and construction process also
takes more time.
People also should read their policies carefully so they understand
what is covered and what isn't.
Standard homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding, Kalb said.
"If people don't have flood insurance, they're going to be out of
luck," Kalb said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Insurance
Program is the country's largest provider of flood insurance, which is
not offered by many commercial carriers.
But people without insurance are not totally without help. Federal aid
is available to individuals and business owners affected by the storm.
There are disaster loans up to $200,000 available to homeowners to
repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate through the U.S.
Small Business Administration. Homeowners and renters are eligible up
to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property.
Businesses and private non-profit organizations of any size may borrow
up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed
real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business
assets. The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total
amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements,
as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of
property damage by future disasters of the same kind.
Diego Alvarado, a FEMA spokesman, said people should call and register
with the agency to get the process going.
As with insurance, it takes time before funds are paid out, he said.
Jennifer Wislocki, a spokeswoman for Travelers in Connecticut, said her
company already is receiving claims and has about 5,000 people staffing
phones or meeting in person with customers. It has set up five mobile
claim offices in affected areas. Other insurers reported taking similar
She said; "We are committed to reaching impacted customers, as soon as
it is safe to do so, to help them being the recovery process as quickly
More than 7,000 in Connecticut seeking storm help
New London DAY
Published 11/13/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 11/13/2012 07:36 AM
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Federal officials say more than 7,000 property
owners in Connecticut have applied for help to recover from Superstorm
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded about $4 million
for state residents forced out of their homes by the storm that pounded
the Northeast on Oct. 29.
The Connecticut Post reports that FEMA spokeswoman Rita Egan said
Monday agency workers have received applications from 7,271 property
owners statewide. Most applications were from residents in hard-hit
shoreline towns in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
Egan says about 3,466 applicants have asked for home inspections and
about 2,000 have been completed by the agency's field workers.
Of the nearly $4 million in FEMA awards approved by Monday, all but
about $200,000 were for housing assistance.
The remainder was for personal property loss.
likely in Congress over
Hurricane Sandy funds
November 1, 2012
Washington -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it has
enough money to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.
But others say more money will be needed, and storm victims may not be
able to get all the help they need -- unless Congress steps in.
Securing more money for FEMA to help storm victims could be quite a
fight in a budget-cutting Congress.
Democrats, especially those in storm-tossed states, may be willing to
vote for more funds.
"My understanding is that FEMA has sufficient funding at the moment,
but this recovery is still in the beginning stages, and it will take
time for us to know exactly what FEMA needs," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro,
D-3rd District, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "I will
work with FEMA and my colleagues to make sure we can help those
affected rebuild and come out of this stronger than ever."
Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said, "I will be working with the
rest of the delegation to ensure that Connecticut gets everything it
needs as Congress works with governors and states to rebuild."
"And I hope," he added, "that the needs of the nation will overcome the
partisan gridlock we've seen too much of this last year."
But other lawmakers who are trying to save other programs from cuts or
want to trim FEMA's reach may object to new funding.
"There is no indication FEMA will need additional funds," said Jennifer
Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal
The Obama administration has already declared large parts of New York,
New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Virginia and West Virginia
major disaster areas that are eligible for a flood of federal help, and
other declarations are expected.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fulgate says his agency's $3.6 billion
emergency fund will be enough to meet all needs.
But others are less certain.
On Wednesday, Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., a member of the House
Appropriations Committee, said he will introduce legislation to provide
$12 billion in additional FEMA emergency assistance funds.
"The American people deserve, and insist on, the kind of first-rate
recovery response that FEMA can provide," said Fattah, who represents a
Philadelphia-based district impacted by the storm. "But we cannot do it
on the cheap."
The issue of whether FEMA has enough money to help all of Sandy's
victims and reimburse local governments for the costs of responding to
storm is expected to come up in a lame duck session of Congress
after the Nov. 6 elections.
A big worry for the insurance industry is whether FEMA will have enough
money to meet its obligations under the federal flood insurance program.
Homeowners' policies don't cover flood damage. So homeowners who live
on federally designated flood plains -- areas near the coastline and
other bodies of waters -- are required by their mortgage lenders to buy
Flood insurance policies are sold by insurance companies, often through
independent agents. But they are underwritten by FEMA, which pays out
FEMA has about $920 million in its flood insurance account, and another
$2.9 billion left in borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury. That
means the flood insurance program can pay out about $3.8 billion in
But John Prible, vice president of federal affairs for the Independent
Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, is concerned that's not
"My hunch is that this is going to exceed the $3.8 billion, in which
case there's no other option but that Congress ask for more or some
consumers will not be paid their claims," Prible said.
There were huge fights in Congress when Hurricane Katrina decimated the
flood insurance fund, forcing Congress to give FEMA $21 billion in
borrowing authority to pay all claims.
Prible estimated that Sandy will cost $7 billion to $15 billion in
homeowner policy losses, and an as yet undetermined amount in flood
He said Congress will not like appropriating more money for FEMA.
"But (lawmakers) are going to like it a lot less if their constituents'
claims are not paid," he said.
Prible also said the reputations of insurance companies and insurance
agents who sell flood insurance policies are on the line because
policyholders will be "furious" at the industry, as well as at the
federal government, if claims are not paid.
"A fight (in Congress) is definitely coming," Prible said. "But right
now everybody is trying to remain calm."
Tropical Storm Beryl makes
Fla. coast, bring soaking rains to Ga.
Last Updated: 9:41 AM, May 28, 2012
Posted: 12:34 AM, May 28, 2012
Drenching rains from Tropical Storm Beryl are bringing a soggy Memorial
Day to the southeastern US coast, though one Georgia official says he
expects the rainfall to be largely beneficial.
Ray Parker is the emergency management chief for McIntosh County on the
Georgia coast. He said Monday that the 1 to 2 inches of rain that fell
in his area overnight had been absorbed like it "fell on an empty
Parker says his county south of Savannah saw minimal damage as Beryl
came ashore in northern Florida early Monday. Most came from scattered
power outages caused by falling tree limbs. He says two homes had trees
fall on them.
Beryl was forecast to weaken as it hovered near the Georgia-Florida
line. The storm made landfall late Sunday in northeastern
Florida, bringing drenching rains and driving winds to the southeastern
U.S. coast, forecasters said. The National Hurricane Center in
Miami reported late Sunday that Beryl made landfall over Duval and
northern St. John's counties, with near-hurricane-strength winds of 70
"There are strong rain bands that are rotating around the center of the
storm," forecaster Al Sandrik said in an audio statement on the NHC
The weather system was expected to weaken as it moves inland and become
a tropical depression by Monday night. Tropical storm warnings
were in effect for the entire Georgia coastline, as well as parts of
Florida and South Carolina.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged Florida residents in the affected areas
to "stay alert and aware."
"Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to bring heavy rain and winds, and it
is vital to continue to monitor local news reports and listen to the
advice of local emergency management officials," Scott said in a
statement early Sunday evening.
Beryl was expected to bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to parts, with some
areas getting as much as 12 inches. Forecasters predict the storm surge
and tide will cause significant coastal flooding in northeastern
Florida, Georgia and southern South Carolina. The weather system
could complicate holiday traffic on Monday, and it wrecked some
Memorial Day weekend plans on Sunday, causing shoreline campers to pack
up and head inland and leading to the cancellation of some events.
Campers at Cumberland Island, Ga., which is reachable only by boat,
were told to leave by 4:45 p.m. Sunday. The island has a number of
undeveloped beaches and forests popular with campers. However,
many people seemed determined to make the best of the soggy forecast.
At Greyfield Inn, a 19th-century mansion and the only private inn on
Cumberland Island, the rooms were nearly full Sunday and everyone was
planning to stay put through the wet weather, said Dawn Drake, who
answered the phone at the inn's office on the Florida coast.
In Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday's jazz festival and Memorial Day ceremony
were canceled. Workers were also out clearing tree limbs and debris
that could be tossed about by the storm's winds. Winds had already
knocked down tree limbs and power lines in parts of coastal Georgia,
leaving hundreds without electricity.
But business was booming at the Red Dog Surf Shop in New Smyrna Beach,
Fla., where customers flocked to buy boards and wax in anticipation of
the storm's high waves. Officials along the coast warned of rip
currents, waves and high tides — all of which can be dangerous but also
tend to attract adventurous surfers. The waters had already become
dangerous in South Carolina, where rescuers were searching for a
The Coast Guard said three people and a dog were rescued from a sinking
recreational vehicle by crews in Charleston Harbor late Sunday morning.
"There were wave heights of roughly four feet, the waves started
depositing water in the boat and the boat started to get overwhelmed,
it started to sink," Petty Officer Christopher Evanson, a Coast Guard
spokesman, told the Associated Press. "The Coast Guard was able to get
on scene, get alongside the boat and disembark the passengers.
Evanson said the Guard is "trying to convince boaters and swimmers
alike to stay away from the water. It's very dangerous right now and
we're trying to stay vigilant and we're out there trying to ensure that
everybody is safe. In Jacksonville Beach, Fernando Sola said
business was booming at his Happy Faces Ice Cream truck. A bus- full of
tourists from South Carolina had stopped to buy some ice cream and
watch the storm waters churn.
"There are actually more people than on a normal day. It's working out
great," said Sola, taking a few moments away from scooping ice cream to
people lined up in front of his truck. Steady, heavy winds kicked
up sand across the area, forcing onlookers to shield themselves with
towels. Jessica Smith and Chester Jaheeb decided to brave the
waters despite many warnings for people to stay out. Jaheeb, who was
born in India but lives in Jacksonville, said he had never experienced
a tropical storm before.
"We were at a certain part that started pulling us out, like the rip
current, so we decided to come to shore," said Smith, 17.
Taylor Anderson, captain of Jacksonville Beach's American Red Cross
Volunteer Lifesaving Corps., said his lifeguards went body-surfing
early Sunday to get acclimated with the surf conditions for what looked
to be a long day. They also reviewed methods to determine where there
might be riptides.
"They look for discoloration, the water moving paradoxically back to
sea, and our lifeguards are trained to spot that, to keep people away
from that, especially when the surf is this high. It makes those
run-outs very dangerous. People can get sucked into those very fast,
especially with the high surf and the high wind," he said.
Though the weather was calm earlier Sunday, Anderson's lifeguards began
preparing other equipment in the morning. They packed sandbags in front
of the entrances to the oceanfront Red Cross lifeguard station and
pulled lifeguard stands off the beach. As the winds picked up,
officials hung two red flags, one warning of dangerous ocean conditions
and the other notifying beachgoers that swimming was prohibited. But a
lot of people ignored the warnings. By 3:30 p.m., Anderson said,
lifeguards had made 150 "preventions," meaning lifeguards ordered 150
people out of the water, though no rescues were necessary.
One of the people ordered out the water was Christian Siciliano, 14, of
Jacksonville Beach. The surfer said the waves were too rough for
surfing so he, his brother and a friend decided to go boogey-boarding.
"We just went out to, like, mess around," Christian said. "It was
really rough. I didn't make it out too far, about 10 feet."
He said the waves were so powerful it was difficult to paddle against
them. Then lifeguards raced to the area and ordered him and the two
other youths from the water.
Bars and restaurants along Jacksonville Beach's oceanside roads were
enjoying booming business, with outside decks crowded with people
listening to music, drinking and watching the weather. At Joe's Crab
Shack, which has a deck facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Bee Gees'
"Stayin' Alive" blasted from outside speakers.
Joe Murphy, a spokesman for the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla.,
said he was not seeing a flood of checkouts or people trying to get off
the island. Outdoor dining had been moved inside and the hotel set up
movies and family game activities, but the hotel had no plans to board
up or move patio furniture inside.
The southeastern U.S. wasn't the only part of the country dealing with
In Washington, the annual Memorial Day concert on the National Mall
Sunday night was cut short as a line of thunderstorms approached the
District of Columbia from the northwest. Mike Musher of the National
Weather Service said the thunderstorms developed over Pennsylvania as
part of the weather system that created record high temperatures in the
Midwest over the weekend.
On Tybee Island, a barrier island not far from Savannah, water off the
beaches was closed for swimming Sunday. Tybee Island fire Chief C.L.
Sasser said winds of up to 42 mph were creating "horrendous water
currents." Only people with flotation devices strapped or tethered to
their bodies were being allowed into the water, and they were being
cautioned not to venture in farther than knee deep.
"Even if you're standing in waist-deep water, the current can sweep you
out quickly," he said.
His ocean rescue team pulled a total of 48 people from the water on
Saturday, he said, including about 27 that were considered to be in
life-threatening conditions. One man who was sucked under the water was
rescued by friends and onlookers and was taken to the hospital in
A band of showers soaked the beaches late Sunday morning, causing
crowds to thin, Sasser said. With alternating rainy and sunny weather
forecast throughout the day, he said he expected the crowds on the
sands to ebb and flow.
In South Carolina, Janice Keith with the Myrtle Beach Area Convention
and Visitors Bureau said Sunday that the office hadn't fielded any
calls from concerned tourists.
In Beaufort County, emergency management deputy director David Zeoli
said officials were continuing to monitor the storm and encourage
people to have a plan in case conditions get worse.
Zeoli said winds had kicked up in the area that includes Hilton Head
Island, a popular golf and beach destination. "It's just a wet day
here," he said.
Federal Forecasters: 9 To 15
Storms This Hurricane Season
By MATTHEW STURDEVANT, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:34 PM EDT, May 24, 2012
This year's hurricane season is forecast to be a bit quieter than the
usual summer of the past three decades, according to the nation's two
leading forecast centers.
The season will bring between nine and 15 named storms with winds of 39
mph or greater, according to a forecast released Thursday by the
National Hurricane Center, a division of the National Oceanic and
The hurricane center said there is a 70 percent chance of nine to 15
named storms, of which four to eight will be hurricanes with winds of
74 mph or great, and one to three will be major hurricanes with winds
of 111 mph or more.
That's below the average of the period from 1981-to-2010 of 12 named
storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
"NOAA's outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent
years," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. "But regardless of the
outlook, it's vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone
locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the
20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew."
Andrew was a Category 5 hurricane that his South Florida on Aug. 24,
The National Hurricane Center's prediction is similar that of the
nation's other closely-watched hurricane forecasting center at Colorado
In mid-April, the Colorado forecasters said the season would have 10
named storms, four of which would be hurricanes and two of which would
be major hurricanes.
Tropical Storm Irene crashed through Connecticut in August 2011, which
caused flooding, toppled trees and power lines and resulted in
electricity outages that lasted longer than a week for some residents.
Before Irene, the last tropical storm to make landfall in the state was
Floyd in 1999. The last hurricane to hit Connecticut was Bob in 1991.
In May 2011, the National Hurricane Center forecast last year's season
to have 12 to 18 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to six
In April 2011, the Colorado State forecasters forecast the season would
bring 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes and five major hurricanes in the
The 2011 season delivered 19 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major
Dissatisfaction with farm disaster
benefits floats up with Irene
Jan Ellen Spiegel, CT MIRROR
September 13, 2011
Shelly Oechsler managed a touch of humor offering a photo of
fields on her family's 400-acre Botticello Farms two days after
tropical storm Irene struck.
"What you are looking at is some of our peppers," she said in an email.
"If you were a scuba diver, that is."
Just about all 400 acres, most of which are in Glastonbury, wound up
under the waters of the double-edged agricultural sword of the
Connecticut River. It provides unparalleled soil for farming most of
the time, but is devastating when it floods.
"One hundred percent loss," Oechsler said of the farm's mainly fall
crops--pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, corn, peppers and more--which they
are now trying to purchase elsewhere to keep their farm stand going.
But the overflow of the river during Irene, made worse by last week's
three days of downpours, is only part of the failure farmers like
Oechsler say they're feeling.
Many complain that crop insurance and other loss coverage programs are
costly, with payout restrictions that often result in no benefits, and
that disaster assistance--if they can even qualify--is mostly in the
form of loans.
"Borrowing to pay today's debts based on the potential of reaping a
successful harvest next year is not a good bet if we plan on keeping
the farm," Oechsler said, noting this was their fourth bad year in a
row. "I understand the concept of government can't just be giving
people money, but it can bail out the banks and bailout Chrysler and
those people. What about your food source?"
Chris Bassette, who with her husband Kevin farm about 85 acres of mixed
vegetables along the river in South Glastonbury at their Killam &
Bassette farmstead, had eight acres of corn blown down by Irene. Before
they could salvage it, 18 acres, including the corn, flooded and last
week's rain rendered what's left susceptible to disease and mold.
They've lost one-third to one-half of their overall produce and both
Bassettes are considering finding non-farm jobs over the winter.
But a loan? "How much money can you borrow?" asked Bassette who said
the farm has had at least one loss claim each of the last eight years.
"We borrowed a lot this year to start up; borrowed against another farm
loan that we had. How much do you want to go in debt?"
The core of many farmers' complaints is federal crop insurance, which
they feel is geared towards commodity farmers in the Midwest, not the
small farms of Connecticut that typically operate on tight margins
using the profits from one growing season to pay for seed and other
operational costs the next. Crop insurance, while county specific, only
covers a handful of crops in Connecticut: tobacco, nursery plants,
sweet and field corn, apples, some peaches and potatoes. It does not
cover the vast array of vegetables and fruit grown by most of the
For those crops, farmers can purchase protection through the Noninsured
Assistance Program, NAP. But many like Botticello and Killam &
Bassette have chosen to cover only their most valuable crops. And some,
like Patrick Horan of Waldingfield Farm in Washington Depot, go without
because of rising premium costs and the high percentage losses need to
reach to trigger payouts.
"Financing follows the bigger folks first, then we little farms gets
the scraps," said Horan, who specializes in heirloom tomatoes, 60
percent of which he said were ruined by the recent rains. He said he'll
file paperwork for assistance, "but I'm not really in the mood to
borrow money just to owe it back."
Even insurers concede the need to fill gaps in crop coverage in
Connecticut, but point out not too many years ago, about the only thing
you could insure was tobacco. "We are constantly working with officials
to get crop insurance expanded," said James Putnam, executive vice
president of Farm Credit East in Enfield. He said a pilot program
called Adjusted Gross Revenue, which bundles crops for coverage, has
had few takers because of its requirement for five years of detailed
How insurance coverage links to disaster assistance is another bone of
contention many farmers have with the system. The presidential disaster
declaration, like the one in place now in Connecticut, does not cover
crops. It covers losses to property, equipment, structures and certain
perennial plants like fruit trees and grapevines--but not the fruit on
them--and it provides low interest loans only.
Disaster assistance for crops requires something known as a
"secretarial designation." The U.S. secretary of agriculture makes that
determination based on loss data compiled by county. The data for
Connecticut as a result of Irene is being collated by the USDA's Farm
Service Agency Connecticut office and is expected to be turned over to
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy this week so he can make the official request to
If approved, it provides loans for crop losses, if other criteria are
met including whether a farmer's credit is good enough to qualify for a
loan from a private lending institution instead. It also can provide a
cash payment known as Supplemental Revenue Assistance, SURE, but only
to farmers who are insured and/or covered by NAP on all of their crops.
Michele Collins, whose husband's family owns Fair Weather Acres in
Rocky Hill, the largest green bean grower in New England, said they
used to buy crop insurance but stopped because the loss threshold was
so high. Irene flooded 250 of their 437 planted acres, killing more
than $800,000 in green beans and pumpkins. But loss calculation
formulas mean they are unlikely to receive any federal assistance.
"We probably won't do wholesale farming next year," said Collins who
expects the family will sell off equipment to pay existing loans. "I
don't know what we can do," she said.
Federal and state agriculture officials bristle at the notion that
policies may be failing farmers in Connecticut.
"No, not at all," said Rosemary Edwards, program specialist at the
Connecticut FSA. "NAP, risk management insurance--it's not out to give
you a profit. It's out to cover expenses so you can plant again next
Executive Director Marsha Jetté said the low interest loans
"give them a another tool for them to recover."
State Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky said he realized the
insurance issue is difficult for some farmers. "We're always tweaking
it trying to get it to meet the current situation in agriculture that
we have here in the Northeast," he said. "There's no simple answer
here. Is it fair to those people who make all the right steps and take
the necessary precautions to have a major payout to those
"We're going do whatever it is we can do to insure as much assistance
is available from the government," he said. "But it's not to make
The full assessment of farm losses is likely to take some time So far,
indications are the apple crop will be off 10 to 12 percent. The
heaviest losses appear to be in the Connecticut and Farmington River
valleys, but crops that handle rain badly - tomatoes, summer squash and
greens - were destroyed everywhere. Some farmers still can't get into
muddy fields see damage. Others won't be able to make final tallies
until harvest ends late in October.
Farm Service Agency county offices say they're getting damage calls
from people they never hear from. And they note that collateral damage
and costs could go clear through the winter into next season due to
things like silt-covered hayfields that won't be able to be planted
next season. Loss of power destroyed silage for animals. Feed will now
have to be purchased at additional expense. Finding replacement crops
for farm stands is increasingly difficult with growers throughout the
Northeast also facing flood-related crop loss. Saturated crops in
fields are requiring additional anti-disease treatment. More than a few
farmers have had to contend with equipment swallowed up by mud.
That said, farmers are an optimistic bunch who readily admit they farm
because they love it and realize the vicissitudes of nature come with
the territory. Reviczky said things could have been worse. "I don't
want people to lose sight of the fact that there will still be
Connecticut-grown fruits and vegetables," he said. "On the bright side,
the demand for locally-grown has never been better."
Storm building over relief
for Irene, other disasters
Deirdre Shesgreen, CT MIRROR
September 12, 2011
WASHINGTON--A political tempest is brewing over the Obama
Administration's request for $6.9 billion in disaster funding to help
states hit by Hurricane Irene and a spate of other recent events.
On Friday, the White House sent Congress a request for $500 million in
emergency funding to replenish the nearly-depleted coffers of the
federal Disaster Relief Fund. That money is needed to help carry relief
efforts through the end of fiscal year 2011, which ends Sept. 30.
At the same time, the White House also asked for $6.4 billion in
disaster relief funding for fiscal year 2012. That's $4.6 billion more
than the President initially sought in his 2012 budget request,
including an extra $1.5 billion to respond to the massive damage
Hurricane Irene caused in Connecticut and other states.
The Senate could take up both funding requests as early as this week,
but the issue may get tangled up in the highly-charged debate over
reducing the federal debt and the scramble to finish the annual
spending bills that will fund the government for fiscal year 2012.
The Administration's disaster aid request comes as Congress faces a
daunting task of reducing federal spending by $1.5 trillion over the
next year--even more if lawmakers adopt any elements of the jobs plan
that President Obama laid out last week.
But it also comes at an urgent moment for the Federal Emergency
Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund. As of Friday, FEMA had less
than $500 million in that fund, which is used to help states, cities,
and families recover and rebuild in the wake of natural disasters.
Because of its quickly diminishing resources, FEMA is now operating the
Disaster Relief Fund in an "emergency needs posture," which means the
agency is delaying aid for longer-term rebuilding and mitigation
projects and instead channeling all its funding towards immediate
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he planned
to bring up a stand-alone emergency bill as early as this week to
refill FEMA's disaster aid pot. He called for a package that would
cover the final weeks of 2011 and all 2012, costing as much as $7
"It looks like FEMA may run out of money before we get to the end of
this fiscal year," said Adam Jentleson, Reid's spokesman. Congress
needs to ensure that doesn't happen, he said, but "how much we need to
cover that shortfall and where it will come from it still being worked
FEMA officials note that they've been in an "emergency needs posture"
in previous years, and they stressed the current situation will not
affect individual assistance for disaster survivors who suffered losses
from Irene. The White House's request last week for additional funding
"will ensure that we can continue to support the immediate needs of
disaster survivors for previous and ongoing disasters, as well as
support our state partners as they respond to current and future
events," said Rachel Racusen, FEMA's director of public affairs.
But Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who chairs the Senate
spending committee that oversees homeland security funding, said that
repeated shortfalls in FEMA's disaster fund has created a backlog in
the agency's response to previous events.
"Since 2001, FEMA has had to stop critical disaster recovery projects
six times due to lack of funding," she said in a statement on Friday.
"That means the rebuilding of schools, hospitals, roads and public
utilities that our communities rely on are needlessly delayed."
Because of the current funding crunch, FEMA hasn't approved any new
applications for disaster aid stemming from hurricanes Katrina and
Rita, along with floods in the Midwest, a staffer for Landrieu added.
The problem is now compounded by Hurricane Irene, and the hurricane
season isn't over.
That's fueling concerns that the agency's disaster aid fund could run
dry before the end of the fiscal year. Indeed, FEMA has burned through
more than $300 million in just the last two weeks. "The balance in the
Disaster Relief Fund is now below $484 million, which means the fund
could run out before the end of this month," Landrieu noted in her
statement, calling for "swift action" on the White House request.
Even before Irene hit, the issue of disaster aid had become
contentious. Earlier this summer, after FEMA announced it was shifting
into its "immediate needs posture," House Republicans blasted the Obama
Administration for "purposefully" underfunding the Disaster Relief Fund.
"Time and again, the Administration has ignored the obvious funding
needs" for disaster aid, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers,
R-Ky., said in an Aug. 27 statement. "Now the Administration has let
the fund reach critically low levels, putting continued recovery at
risk, without a plan for the future or a clear method for new
But previous Administrations have similarly asked for less funding than
needed--and previous Congresses have happily gone along. Then when a
hurricane, tornado, or other disaster hits, lawmakers rush to make up
the difference with an "emergency" supplemental bill that's exempt from
regular budget caps.
With Congress now grappling with its $1.5 trillion debt-reduction
mandate, however, this disaster aid bill could face a stormier path.
The issue of disaster funding became a partisan flashpoint earlier this
month when Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said any
increase in disaster aid needed to be balanced by cuts elsewhere in the
Cantor has since backed off that statement, saying House GOP leaders
would not block aid to disaster-struck states, including his home state
of Virginia, which was recently hit by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.
Still, Cantor said Congress needs to act "responsibly" in its funding
decisions. And Republican House staffer, speaking on the condition of
anonymity, said the House Appropriations Committee would likely look
for offsets to cover at least some the new disaster funding, although
not the entire price tag.
Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation said there should be
no fight over funding disaster aid.
"The debate over whether we can find the money to help disaster
survivors respond is nonsense," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a
Connecticut independent who has otherwise taken a hard line on the need
to slash federal spending.
"Once the President declared Connecticut a disaster area, our residents
had the right to the assistance for which they are eligible," said
Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Government
Oversight Committee. "Just as we said during the debt ceiling debate,
America doesn't default on its debts and we don't default on our
obligations to people who have been hurt by Irene here in Connecticut
or anywhere else."
In addition to the questions of how to pay for a bigger bill, House GOP
appropriators have also signaled that they want to pass the new aid as
part of a short-term spending bill for 2012 or through the regular
appropriations process for homeland security, not as an emergency
But the short-term spending bill hasn't been written yet. And
Jentleson, Reid's spokesman, said tying it to the broader homeland
security appropriations bill could slow down the process because that
legislation includes funding for a wide range of federal programs, not
just FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund.
"There's a lot of other things in there that could hold it up, and we
want to make sure we get this money through as soon as possible,"
On Monday, Jentleson said there was still no agreement on when or how
to move the disaster aid bill. But Lieberman said he was optimistic the
disaster bill would not get tied up.
"I have faith my colleagues will come together across party lines, as
we have done in the past, to replenish FEMA's disaster relief fund,
which was designed to provide money in exactly this kind of emergency,"
August 23, 2011
FORUM; "About Town" watercolor - dam at lower right.
Earthquake felt up and down East
Coast; Weston dam appears uncompromised
TUESDAY, 5:30 p.m. — Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said Joe
Mogollon, the town's acting emergency management director, called
Bridgeport Hydraulic to check on the status of the Samuel Senior Dam in
Weston this afternoon after tremors were felt in town from a magnitude
5.8 earthquake in Virginia.
"They wanted to make sure the dam was not compromised. So far they have
found nothing wrong," Ms. Weinstein said.
Obama approves federal disaster
funding for Connecticut
Published: 10:42 p.m., Friday, May 28, 2010
Less than 24 hours after filing an appeal with the Federal Emergency
Management Agency to secure federal funds for individuals whose homes
were damaged in the March nor'easter and others storms, Gov. M. Jodi
Rell received approval from President Barack Obama.
"This is wonderful news -- and it is exactly the right decision," Rell
said in a statement. "The information we provided just a day ago to the
federal government demonstrated conclusively that Connecticut's
residents and employers suffered major, unreimbursed losses from these
storms. They need help -- and now they are getting it."
Rell said staff from the state Department of Emergency Management and
Homeland Security worked closely with 13 FEMA teams to verify nearly
2,500 damaged homes in five counties, with damage estimated at $13.5
million, almost double the 1,315 homes identified in the first
Of the 2,498 homes, 588 are in Fairfield County. The others are in
Middlesex, New London, New Haven and Windham counties.
The state's assessment also found that only 7 percent of residents
filing damage reports are fully insured for damage.
The president last month approved a disaster declaration for public
assistance, freeing up federal funding to municipal governments in
Fairfield, Middlesex and New London counties.
The March 13 nor'easter left thousands of households in lower Fairfield
County without power for several days, knocking down trees and closing
roads. A severe storm at the end of March affected northern parts of
picture, we assume. Some people study how to walk on water, so
they don't see flooding as a problem?
Obama's aid decision stirs
anger. Residents, business owners in state denied financial
flooding help; Rell plans to appeal
By Joe Wojtas, Megan Bard and Chuck Potter Day Staff Writers
Article published Apr 28, 2010
Since last month's floods, residents and business owners in communities
across southeastern Connecticut whose properties were damaged have
heard repeated assurances that the federal government would cover their
Both the state and New London County easily exceeded the monetary
threshold needed to qualify for disaster assistance, and last week
President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration that allowed aid
to begin flowing to the state and municipalities to cover their
costs. But on Tuesday afternoon, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced that
Obama had denied the state's request for individual aid.
The news angered both local officials and residents.
"I'm thoroughly disgusted with him," Beverly Haley of Old Mystic said
of Obama. She and her husband, Wes, who have lived in their house since
1952, are facing $20,000 worth of damage after water filled their
basement and reached the first floor.
"It shows where his interests are. He's not out to help the common man
at all," Wes Haley said of the president while noting that repair costs
will take a big bite out of his retirement savings. "There's a lot of
people who can't afford this."
Stonington First Selectmen Ed Haberek, who as late as Monday had
reassured worried residents that the aid would be coming, called
Obama's decision "disgraceful."
"The denial of this aid just puts salt in the wounds of our residents,"
Haberek said he was especially surprised since FEMA officials toured
the damaged areas with him in the days after the storm, causing what
some said was the worst flooding in town since the hurricane of
Many areas of town that had never flooded before were inundated with
water, while the center of Old Mystic was turned into a rushing
river. The denial of individual aid is especially
Pawcatuck residents, who have seen their neighbors across the river in
Westerly, R.I., already receive reimbursement checks to partially cover
their damage costs.
Residential and business losses in Stonington are estimated at $2
million. The town expects to spend $1.6 million on road and bridge
repairs and costs such as overtime accumulated by police and highway
workers during the storm. Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said the
denial proves his feeling that Obama is out of touch with reality.
"No justification he could offer would provide an adequate answer other
than the fact that he doesn't give a damn about what people here have
suffered," Nystrom said, adding that he witnessed much of the $3
million in damage in his city by walking through businesses and
In Griswold, First Selectman Philip Anthony Jr. said hundreds of people
have filled out Federal Emergency Management Agency paperwork asking
"I really am shocked and disappointed," Anthony said. "I want an answer
as to why a declaration for residents and businesses was made in
Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but not New London County."
On Tuesday the White House press office referred questions to a FEMA
spokesman in Boston who said he could only speak about the FEMA process
and not the reason for denial.
Rich Harris, a spokesman for Rell, said Tuesday night that he did not
immediately know if the letter Rell received included a reason for the
denial. Last week Obama approved Rell's request for a major
declaration in response to the storms that struck the state March 12-14
and March 29-31. That declaration was to allow financial assistance to
the state and municipal governments along with certain nonprofit
organizations but did not cover aid to individuals and businesses
affected by the storms.
Rell said she immediately started gathering information for a formal
appeal, which must be filed within 30 days. Municipal leaders pledged
to do whatever they can to help her with the process.
"This decision is not only disappointing - it's wrong, and I will
appeal it," Rell said in a statement. "I have directed our state
emergency management officials to immediately gather whatever
information may be needed to further support our application for
assistance. I will also work with our Congressional delegation and with
the Federal Emergency Management Agency to continue pursuing this
matter until all avenues for aid are exhausted."
Rell said surveys found 1,315 homes in five Connecticut counties
suffered damages totaling $5.2 million, while 116 businesses accounted
for damages of $5.4 million.
After learning about the aid denial, Anthony said, he immediately
called the governor's office to offer his support for the appeal. "I'm
watching some of my residents suffer, the people on fixed incomes who
can't afford to replace a water heater or a furnace without some help.
I hope they pursue (the appeal) with vigor," Anthony said, adding that
he plans to try to contact U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, this
Anthony said he intends to ask more questions about the president's
decision when he and other municipal officials meet with FEMA
representatives Friday morning in Stonington to discuss the aid for
cities and towns.
Waterford First Selectman Daniel Steward, who estimated there were more
than 1,000 homes damaged in that town during the flooding, held out
hope for a successful appeal by Rell.
"We're also concerned about the president's decision to not fund the
personal-property damages," Steward said, "and hope the governor is
successful in her appeal."
Montville Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz said he was surprised by the
president's decision and fully supports the governor's appeal effort.
"I don't agree with the president on this one. The people should be
taken care of," Jaskiewicz said Tuesday night.
Although he did not have a cost estimate of damage done to houses and
businesses in Montville, the mayor said some were "unbelievable."
"People lost their basements," he said. "I just don't know why he
didn't approve this."
Director of Health Mark Cooper, Community
Health Director Monica Wheeler, and Director of Emergency Preparedness
and Support Services Ken Kellogg. Aquifer and septic graphics
provides a link to interesting
about our region, the people in it, and problems we all face. We
are delighted to be able to present ten different shows, linked to
A VERY SPECIAL
"ABOUT TOWN" INTERVIEW, IN THREE PARTS, WITH KEY OFFICIALS OF THE
WESTPORT WESTON HEALTH DISTRICT:
this three-part interview with Mark Cooper, Director of Health; Monica
Wheeler, Community Health Director; and Ken Kellogg, Director of
Emergency Preparedness and Support Services, of the Westport Weston
Health District. These exceptionally knowledgeable
professionals present information that is vitally important to all of
us, about H1N1 flu, water quality, environmental health, emergency
management, and many other topics that are fundamental to maintaining
our health, our environment, and even the value of our homes!
Here If You Are Using A Dial-Up Modem
For Part 1, please Click
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For Part 2, please
Here If You Are Using A Dial-Up Modem
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For Part 3, please
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P T E M B E R E M E R G E N C Y P R E P A R E D
N E S S M O N T H - click
here for nice announcement of previous meeting. Picture story on previous
FEMA to Focus on Children's Needs During Disasters
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 2:24 p.m. ET
August 3, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is going to
plan more broadly for children and their needs as the government
prepares for disasters.
''Children are not small adults,'' FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said
Most disaster plans are crafted around adult populations, and people
with specific needs -- such as children -- are often an afterthought,
Fugate said in an interview with The Associated Press.
A new FEMA working group will work with the congressionally mandated
National Commission on Children and Disasters, created in 2007. The
FEMA group will focus on specific guidance for evacuating, sheltering
and relocating children; helping childcare centers, schools and child
welfare programs prepare for disasters; and making disaster preparation
part of the Homeland Security Department's grant programs.
The working group's findings could mean changes to the country's
blueprint for disaster response, known as the National Response
Framework, Fugate said.
The Bush administration rewrote this national disaster plan after
Hurricane Katrina. The new 82-page plan, issued in January 2008, does
not include the word ''children,'' but it does mention pets. That plan,
however, is supplemented by more than 200 pages of annexes, which do
address children's needs, though not in depth.
''Let's look at children not as something we're going to deal with
after we write the plan,'' Fugate said.
He said he intends to draw more heavily on existing federal, state and
local programs that already deal with children ''in every community
Revisions in Westport flood
Paul Schott, Westport NEWS
Updated 07:53 a.m., Thursday, July 26, 2012
About 1,100 Westport properties will be affected next year by new flood
zone maps prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
according to the town's Planning and Zoning Department.
Most of the affected properties are in neighborhoods adjacent to Long
Island Sound or the Saugatuck River, according to P&Z Director
Larry Bradley. Many owners of the properties affected by the
reconfigured flood zones could face new flood insurance rates.
The new Westport flood zones, based on digital mapping, comprise part
of a broader flood map revisions of coastal areas in Connecticut
performed by FEMA during the last year, according to Bradley.
FEMA's latest round of flood zone changes is a more ambitious project
compared to the last set of FEMA flood map changes in Westport, which
only affected between 200 to 300 properties.
"Now they haven't only changed the unit of measure, but they've changed
the measurement of the flood levels," Bradley said. "Before, you had to
be 10 feet above the flood level. Now you have to be 11 feet above the
Town residents who are not planning to make major changes to their
properties will not have to alter their homes to comply with the new
flood maps. New residential construction, however, will have to meet
FEMA's new standards.
"If you do any kind of construction on your home, you're going to have
deal with the issue," Bradley said. "But if you're going to live in
your house and not make any changes, you don't have to deal with it."
In the new maps, about 20 Westport properties have been added to
100-year flood zones, also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas, while
about 40 properties have been taken out of those zones, according to
the P&Z Department.
"I think those are more corrective issues," Bradley said of the change
in properties included in 100-year flood zones. "I don't think those
numbers really give any trend one way or another."
Between 2,500 and 3,000 residential and commercial properties in
Westport -- about one-third of all properties in town -- are within
100-year flood zones, according to Bradley. FEMA's new maps
reflect a move by the agency to adopt more stringent flood zone
regulations, Bradley noted.
"After Hurricane Katrina, they realized that a lot of those old models
for flooding needed to be updated," he said. "They've gotten a lot more
restrictive about what they want people to do in terms of elevating
The new flood maps could also help town residents' preparations for
another major flooding event, such as Tropical Storm Irene, which
inundated much of Westport when it struck the Connecticut coast last
"If people's houses are more elevated, then there's less chance of
damage," Bradley said.
The new flood maps are scheduled to be enforced by May 2013, according
to the P&Z Department. Before then, property owners will be able to
submit data to FEMA during a "public comment" period that runs until
Sept. 6 if they want to contest flood map changes affecting their
properties or to appeal the accuracy of the general mapping
process. A public hearing about the flood map changes will likely
be held in Westport early next year, before the new maps take effect,
The average flood insurance policy costs about $600 per year, according
to FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program website. Homeowner insurance
policies usually do not cover flood damage, the website adds.
"Grandfathering" options are available from the National Flood
Insurance Program for properties mapped into 100-year flood zones,
according to the P&Z Department.
Weston affected? "About Town" attended a meeting in Westport
previously, and we thought we heard that only along town lines and
where the difference between old maps and new digital ones caused
technical conflicts (because the major FEMA $$ was devoted to work on
conflicts that are in the COASTAL areas, not inland ones) would there
be problems. THANK YOU e-Norwalk HOUR for original heads-up,
WestportNow for the story below.
73 Westport Homes to Flood Zone
Posted 07/21/2008 at 06:09 PM
UPDATE Seventy-three Westport homeowners are in for a surprise—the
federal government has declared that their properties are in a flood
zone. (See a list of the properties at the end of this article. Click
here to download a map (PDF).)
The revelation is the result of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) updating its Westport flood zone maps, Planning and Zoning
Director Laurence Bradley said today.
About 2,000 or 20 percent of Westport’s 10,000 properties are in a
The updated maps show 73 homes not previously designated to be in a
flood zone to be in a flood zone and about 200 homes that previously
were designated to be in a flood zone no longer in a zone, according to
P&Z staff members.
“This action was based upon new digital mapping that FEMA has prepared
and will become effective early next year,” said Bradley.
He said flooding is the most frequent and costly natural disaster in
Shortly after Bradley’s announcement, the National Weather Service in
Upton, N.Y. issued a coastal flood advisory for Westport from 7 p.m.
today to 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The risk for flooding changes over time due to erosion, land use,
weather events and other factors, Bradley said. The likelihood of
inland, riverine and coastal flooding has changed along with these
The risk for flooding can vary within the same neighborhood and even
property-to-property, Bradley said. But it exists throughout the
area. Knowing your flood risk is the first step to flood
protection, he said.
Just released for public review, the new maps--also known as Flood
Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)--reflect current flood risks, replacing
maps that are up to 25 years old, Bradley said.
As a result, property owners throughout Westport will have up-to-date,
reliable, Internet-accessible information about flood risk, on a
property-by-property basis, he said.
Following in question and answer format is additional information about
the new maps, as supplied by the town’s Planning and Zoning Department:
How will these changes affect you?
To find out if your property has been mapped into a higher risk zone,
known as a Special Flood Hazard Area, and shown as “A”, “AE” or “V” on
the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, see the list below or contact the
Planning and Zoning Office at (203)341-1076.
If you have a mortgage from a federally-regulated lender and the
building(s) on a parcel within the Special Flood Hazard Area, then by
federal law, your lender must require you to carry flood insurance when
these flood maps become effective.
Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance
Program (NFIP), a federally underwritten program provided by nearly 100
insurance companies and written through licensed insurance agents.
Contact your insurance agent to learn about lower-cost “grandfathering”
options offered by the NFIP for properties being mapped into
higher-risk areas for the first time.
If you do not have a mortgage, it is still recommended that you
purchase flood insurance. Over the life of a 30-year loan, there
is about a three times greater chance of having a flood in your home
than having a fire.
Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage
due to flooding. For more information on flood insurance, visit
the National Flood Insurance Program’s Web site, www.floodsmart.gov.
If you feel there has been an error, can you file a protest or appeal?
The maps that were just released are still known as preliminary. Until
Sept. 16, there will be a public comment period. This is a time when
citizens will have the opportunity to submit technical and/or
scientific data to file a protest regarding their individual property,
or an appeal regarding the accuracy of the mapping process in general.
When do the maps become effective?
Once the appeals and protests are reviewed and once any needed map
changes are incorporated, FEMA will issue a Letter of Final
Determination. Six months later, a zoning regulation will be
proposed to adopt the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map. The maps
will then become effective, as will any new flood insurance
However, residents should be aware that starting immediately these
flood hazard maps will be used in helping to determine requirements for
construction and development.
Where can I get more information?
For general information about the flood map modernization project,
contact the Planning and Zoning Office at (203)341-1076. The
office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
and Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Here is the list of the properties newly designated in flood zones as
provided by the Planning and Zoning Department:
205 Bayberry Lane
1 Beachside Ave.
95 Beachside Ave.
6 Blue Ribbon Drive
8 Blue Ribbon Drive
10 Broad St.
2 Burnham Hill
14 Cardinal Lane
15 Cardinal Lane
3 Carriage Lane
71 Cavalry Road
4 Cedar Pond Road
60 Compo Road South
3 Covlee Drive
6 Covlee Drive
33 Edgewater Hillside
35 Edgewater Hillside
17 Gault Ave.
0 Greens Farms Road
101 Greens Farms Road
128 Greens Farms Road
2 Half Mile Common
1 Harborview Road
3 Harborview Road
35b Hiawatha Lane
3 Hide-Away Lane
70 High Point Road
90 Hillandale Road
202 Hillspoint Road
4 Hooper Road
112 Imperial Ave.
0 Jennie Lane
6 Jennie Lane
14 Jennie Lane
20 Jennie Lane
22 Jennie Lane
24 Jennie Lane
26 Jennie Lane
28 Jennie Lane
0 Jesup Road
61 Jesup Road
15 Ketchum St.
14 Kirock Place
1a Longview Road
3 Lost. Lodge Road
177 Main St.
0 Mayflower Parkway
0 Mayflower Parkway
5 Mayflower Parkway
20 Morningside Drive South
0 Narrow Rocks Road
27 Narrow Rocks Road
0 New Creek Road
143 Post Road East
155 Post Road East
12 Richmondville Ave.
37 Richmondville Ave.
6 River Lane
8 River Lane
10 River Lane
14 River Lane
8 Robin Hill Road
16 Silent Grove North
18 Silent Grove North
22 Silent Grove North
87 Turkey Hill Road South
91 Turkey Hill Road South
9 Violet Lane
15 West Branch Road
29 Woody Lane
31 Woody Lane
8 Yankee Hill Road
Officials: Development adds to
By Hoa Nguyen, Staff Writer
Published March 3 2007
Bigger houses and larger paved surfaces might have had
something to do with the way many areas typically not known to flood
were left inundated yesterday by the 3.6 inches of rain that fell in
just 12 hours, some land-use officials said.
"The highest concentration of calls we received were in areas where
development is ongoing," said Michael Chambers, the acting executive
director of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency. "They remove
trees, they create larger homes, tennis courts and other amenities. The
end result is what happened today. When you replace natural ground
cover, natural vegetation with impervious surface, the end result is
Two compliance officers from the wetlands agency were busy yesterday
fielding calls and making visits to residents who believe wetlands
violations might have led to flooding problems.
"Most of the calls we received today were in areas in the center of
town, just above the Post Road, 1-acre zones where development is
fairly clustered," Chambers said.
When developers build houses, the land is replaced with pavement and
other impervious surfaces that do not absorb stormwater. To make sure
this water does not flood the surrounding area, engineered stormwater
systems are built to carry off the water. Sometimes those systems fail
or are deluged with more stormwater than they can handle, causing the
water to back up and flood the surrounding area.
"People who develop their property now are understanding the importance
of stormwater management," Chambers said.
Another factor that might have contributed to the flooding was the
frozen topsoil that prevented the rainwater from soaking in, allowing
the water to accumulate on lawns as if the surface were asphalt
pavement, said Conservation Director Denise Savageau.
"In places where there are lawns, we are just seeing complete runoff,"
she said, adding that is one of the reasons she advocates for the
preservation of meadows, which have crevices capable of holding
stormwater, rather than turning them into flat lawn areas more
susceptible to this problem.
Certainly the amount of water that fell within the short period of time
also was a factor. At the peak of the storm, nearly an inch fell
between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
"It just came in so fast," Savageau said. "It was the sheer volume in
the amount of time, it's one of those things you really don't have any
Both Chambers and Savageau said this is not the first time the town has
seen development exacerbate flooding conditions. In fact, the situation
could get worse as the area continues to be developed.
"We actually could see more occurrence of it if we have more
development of our watershed," Savageau said. "Even though we have
frozen ground conditions that are problematic, we still could see how
bad it would be if we had full development."
Maps Put Some Hartford-Area Properties In Flood Zones
By JOSH KOVNER And ANN MARIE SOMMA | Courant Staff
August 22, 2008
Some property owners who never had to think about flood insurance soon
will feel a tug on their wallets.
Hartford area communities are rolling out reconfigured flood maps, and
some properties are now included in a flood plain for the first time.
Mortgage holders will require the property owners to have flood
insurance by Sept. 26, when the new maps go into effect throughout
If property owners buy insurance before the deadline, they will be
"grandfathered" in at a significantly lower rate. That's because the
properties will not be in designated flood zones before Sept. 26. A
grandfathered rate for a typical single-family home with a full
basement would be roughly $350 to $500 a year for $250,000 in
structural coverage and $100,000 for its contents, said Paul Morey of
the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After the first year, that
rate would rise to $1,300 or $1,400 a year for the same coverage
because the properties would then be in flood zones, which are
considered high risk for insurance purposes.
But property owners who lock in before the Sept. 26 deadline will never
pay the full freight — about $2,500 a year for those living in a zone
around a river, Morey said. Coverage would cost even more in coastal
Such is life after Hurricane Katrina, as FEMA asks cities and towns
nationwide to redo 1980s-era maps with help from new satellite imagery
that more accurately gauges topography, elevation and, ultimately,
risk. In Connecticut, Middlesex County has largely completed the new
mapping and Hartford County is doing it now and is to finish before
Sept. 26. Fairfield and New Haven counties are next.
Property owners can visit FEMA's map service website at
www.msc.fema.gov and plug in an address to view the new flood plain
maps. Also, town engineers and planners throughout the Hartford area
are answering property owners' questions.
Flood plains are areas around bodies of water that would flood in a
100-year storm — a deluge with a 1 in 100 chance of occurring in any
year. The last one in Hartford was in 1984.
The new flood-plain boundaries — the area in which property owners are
required to have flood insurance — are slightly different on the new
maps in several Hartford area communities. In West Hartford, the newly
drawn lines include about 250 properties that weren't in a flood zone
before. Conversely, about 250 properties that were in a flood zone
aren't any longer, though many of those are still on the edge and could
be required by a private lender to retain insurance. The town has hired
a company to put together a list of affected owners, and they'll be
contacted within the next two weeks, Town Engineer David Kraus said.
West Hartford has set a public hearing for Sept. 23 on the new mapping.
Towns can restrict development in a flood plain, and property owners in
these zones would need special permission to add a deck, shed or
anything that alters the property.
In Wethersfield, a few hundred property owners may be required to
purchase flood insurance. Town officials are urging residents to
consult the new maps posted on the town's website
(wethersfieldct.com/government/maps/fema-flood-zones) to determine if
they now live in a flood zone. Hard copies of the maps are also
available in the town's planning and zoning office.
"Our staff is available to assist residents in looking up their
property on the maps, but it is ultimately up to them to investigate,"
said Peter Gillespie, the town's director of planning and economic
development. The town will hold a public hearing at town hall on Sept.
16 at 7 p.m. to implement the new zoning regulations. Residents are
encouraged to attend to learn about the redrawn maps.
In Rocky Hill, which sits on the west bank of the Connecticut River,
the new maps affect only a few residents because the river's flood
elevation dropped since the last time the maps were adopted in 1980,
Town Engineer Jim Sollmi said.
"There hasn't been any real change. It's almost status quo," Sollmi
FEMA is also looking at levees more closely than ever. For Hartford and
East Hartford, that means that areas behind the Connecticut River
levees, once deemed to be at no risk of flooding, are now considered
low- to moderate-risk flood zones. The federal government doesn't
require flood insurance in these areas — but FEMA is recommending it,
and a private lender could require it.
For Hartford, the new zone covers 20 percent of the city's land area —
generally South Meadows, North Meadows and the eastern portion of
downtown, from Columbus Boulevard to the river. In East Hartford, the
new zone takes in a good deal of the town, from Green Terrace to the
north, west though Great River Park and Commerce Center, east to Main
Street and the area behind town hall, and finally out to Brewer Street
in the southeast, Town Engineer Nick Casparino said.
This is the case even though the levees on both sides of the river are
provisionally certified by the feds and millions of dollars in repairs
have been made. The levees are on track for permanent certification by
the Army Corps of Engineers — in July 2009 for Hartford, and March 2010
for East Hartford.
On the old maps, there's no indication that the areas were protected by
levees or in any danger of flooding; now, said Hartford City Engineer
John McGrane, the draft maps show a zone emanating from the river
called "shaded area X."
That new delineation, McGrane said, suggests that FEMA doesn't fully
trust levees anymore. He said the federal government used to assume
levees built by the Army Corps of Engineers were infallible. Hurricane
Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 blew that assumption away.
"It's somewhat of a strange scenario," McGrane said, noting that the
levees are probably stronger now, with all the repairs, than they were
when the old maps were indicating no risk at all. "It's a more
conservative approach by FEMA, all driven by Katrina. They're learning
from the things that went wrong in New Orleans."
Did you know that CT DEP links to ESRI
(and if you tell ESRI your
private information [i.e. name, country of residence, telephone number
and ZIP], which they will use commercially, their G.I.S. software is
AND CTDEP - http://www.ct.gov/dep
"About Town" attended meeting in Westport Town Hall
Monday, May 12, 2008, from 1:30-3:30pm, where coastal communities were
brought up to date on changes to flood insurance lines (eg. 100-yr
storm even up to 500-yr flood-storm; the April 2007 event that
took out Cartbridge was greater than a 100-yr storm event).
Engineers, planners and consultants attended from Greenwich thru
Bridgeport (Fairfield had a lot to say about dunes). Stamford was
concerned about levees.
For Weston, this was not a necessary meeting to attend because we
aren't Coastal (global warming may kick in some day, but not
yet). For us, nothing has changed EXCEPT for the fact that the
maps will be more precise than the existing paper maps - the same as
those on the NEMO/CLEAR website from UCONN/manipulation of these aereal
photos. The data for demarcating different flood areas, a copy to
be given in paper to each town (U.S.G.S. quads for the town) of new
boundaries, will be the same for Weston. "New" boundaries are
made only at Town lines for adjustments of demarcation lines by
Legend-identified classes of flood surges.
I believe the topo lines used in the new maps are 2-foot contours in
overlay...but more will be known by September, when FEMA and CT DEP
conduct formal public hearings (which then give Coastal communities 90
days to appeal); everyone gets to question plain old mistakes for
After final approval, towns will have to amend flood zone regs, maps,
etc. It was suggested that these Federal guidelines are minimal
and new regs might want to be stricter - 2-feet above base flood
instead of one. It was noted by FEMA that banks will be requiring
flood insurance for some properties that will now be within flood
zones. CT DEP had some good suggestions about this. By
virtue of better mapping techniques, some properties will be in and
some out - it will be up to property owners to find out for themselves
(or just wait for their bank to notify them about the need for flood
Individuals who presented were: David Knowles, P.E., hydrologist,
FEMA mitigation division; Carla Feroni, environmental analyst
(3), bureau of water protection and land reuse, inland water resources
division; Sal Longo, P.E., civil engineer, Roald Haestad, Inc and
Flood maps may affect insurance
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 05/12/2008 02:32:10 AM EDT
Some homeowners here and elsewhere in Fairfield County may find their
neighborhoods categorized at a higher risk of flooding when federal
officials unveil revised flood maps tomorrow.
When storms are expected town emergency planners use the maps to
determine what streets and areas require evacuation or other measures,
based on the topography and the magnitude of the expected storm, town
Emergency Operations Management Coordinator Daniel Warzoha said.
"This is an important tool for towns, homeowners and insurance
companies for guidance," Warzoha said of the maps. "Both the
municipality and the homeowners are going to get a look and have a
chance for comment."
Flood insurance rates are tied in part to map information.
The proposed updated maps are a collaboration of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
and private contractors, and should be a more accurate gauge of flood
risk than the current set of maps created in the early 1990s, said
Wayne Sanford, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Emergency
One anticipated improvement will be that the scale of the maps will be
standardized, a shortcoming of the current set of maps which can make
them difficult to decipher, Sanford said.
Extensive development in the state since the late 1980s could also
prompt engineers working on the maps to recategorize some areas as more
prone to floods, Sanford said.
"Since the 1980s, when work began on the last maps, so much
construction has taken place which may cause changes," Sanford said.
"The other benefit of a more accurate map for homeowners is they will
be able to figure out if they have been paying for flood insurance and
don't need it."
A copy of the revised maps will be reviewed by Warzoha and other
Fairfield County emergency planners at a public meeting at 1:30 p.m.
tomorrow at the Westport Town Hall at 110 Myrtle Ave.
FEMA will make a decision on adopting the maps after planners and other
emergency agencies weigh in.
Anthony MacLeod, chairman of the town's Flood and Erosion Control
Board, said interest in controlling severe flooding and making
necessary changes to prevent it has grown since last April's Tax Day
FEMA declared the nor'easter a disaster last May and agreed to assist
municipalities, such as Greenwich, as well as residents to repair
roads, homes and other facilities.
"There have been a lot of studies dating to the 1970s and 1980s about
flooding in Greenwich but the information is out of date," MacLeod
said. "It's a very important topic to a lot of people to know whether
or not they are in the flood plain."
Among areas of town prone to flooding are Old Greenwich, low-lying
areas of Byram and Pemberwick and parts of Cos Cob.
Trash FEMA, Fix It
Hartford Courant editorial
May 5, 2006
Three separate investigations of the government response to Hurricane
Katrina have confirmed what was obvious to all who read the newspapers
or watched television during those dark days in Alabama, Mississippi
and Louisiana. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, screwed
up. It was joined in incompetence by the Homeland Security secretary,
the White House and local authorities, namely New Orleans Mayor Ray
Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
Even so, that's no reason to demolish FEMA and replace it with yet
another potentially unwieldy and untested bureaucracy just in time for
the new hurricane season. With respect to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and
his colleague Susan M. Collins of Maine, who have made such a proposal,
FEMA needs strengthening, not reinventing.
The agency started by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to streamline
government response to natural disasters did its job well. Only when it
was absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security did the wheels come
The New Orleans disaster, in which the hurricane damage was compounded
by unprecedented flooding, was the first major test of FEMA's mettle
after it went from a freestanding entity to part of the massive new
agency. In addition to responding to natural disasters, FEMA became
part of the nation's anti-terror machinery. Not only were its
traditional role and resources diluted by the focus on terror, the
agency was run by a director who had limited qualifications for the
job, including no emergency preparedness experience.
Sens. Lieberman and Collins want the new bureaucracy, dubbed the
National Preparedness and Response Authority, to remain part of
Homeland Security, but to report directly to the president in times of
disaster. Its key responsibilities would be preparedness, response,
recovery and mitigation. It would feature regional "strike forces" to
better coordinate with local officials.
This sounds a lot like the "retooling" that Homeland Security Secretary
Michael Chertoff has undertaken to cure FEMA's failings. He has moved
to beef up leadership by replacing Mr. Brown and other senior officials
with professional disaster managers, fix the communication system and
ensure rapid delivery of emergency supplies.
Mr. Lieberman rejects the idea of breaking off the disaster response
agency from its hydra-headed home and making it a free-standing entity.
"Katrina made it clear we need more integration in federal
preparedness, not less," said the senator.
What FEMA needs is what has worked in the past: dedicated leadership by
people with know-how and common priorities, better communication,
adequate resources and a direct pipeline to the president.
This scene is of the
Five Mile River in a previous year's flooding.
recent months flooding is
down, but attention is up
By ROBERT KOCH, Hour Staff Writer
August 26, 2008
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials asked Fairfield County residents
and leaders for help Monday afternoon in tackling flooding on a
"Flooding needs to really be looked at from a systems perspective. It's
very easy to solve one problem and transmit the problem someplace
else," said John R. Kennelly, chief of planning for the New England
District of the Army Corps. "You really need to look at flooding from a
About 75 people, including residents and elected officials from
throughout Fairfield County, attended the Army Corps of Engineers Flood
Summit Meeting in the Community Room of Norwalk City Hall.
U.S. Rep. Christopher R. Shays, R-4, arranged the meeting.
"We've been dealing with some incredibly difficult flooding situations
all around Fairfield County," Shays said. "What we are looking to do is
to begin to get the Corps to treat the greater Fairfield County as one
site, to get all of us to coordinate together how we deal with this
flooding, and to help me in our effort to make sure we're putting our
priorities where they should be."
In Fairfield County, the Army Corps hopes to move forward with
reconnaissance work, feasibility studies and projects to reduce
flooding. The regional approach, in practice, will produce multiple
studies of rivers and watersheds rather than of flooding in individual
Reconnaissance work, paid for by the Army Corps, typically takes a
year. Feasibility studies require a 50 percent cost share from the
local community, include detailed engineering and design analyses, and
can take 18 months to three years to complete, according to Kennelly.
The pace depends, in part, on residents sharing their experiences,
according to Eugene Brickman, deputy chief of planning for the New York
District of the Army Corps.
"What is the real nature of the problem? Do you have photographs? Do
you have damage estimates?" Brickman said.
Moving forward with flood-correction projects ultimately requires money
from Washington, D.C. The federal government pays 65 percent of the
cost of such projects. The sponsoring community must come up with the
remaining 35 percent, either locally or through the state, according to
the Army Corps.
Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia labeled landing funding the greatest
"The difficulty is always when it comes to funding," Moccia said.
"Finances are stretched."
At the forum, residents and elected officials named flood-prone brooks
and rivers in their communities.
In recent years, West Norwalk residents living along The Five Mile
River have been hit hard by flooding. Last year, elected officials
brought Army Corps representatives to the banks of the river to speak
with property owners and discuss possible solutions.
Those same residents are pleased that a plan may be in the works but
fear it will come too late.
"It's not a question of 'if.' It's a question of 'when.' We've had a
few big storms but we haven't had a huge storm," said Molly Walsh, who
lives on McKendry Court. "What's going to happen over the next three
years? Are we going to make it to the point we might be getting federal
Officials from Greenwich to Bridgeport concurred that flooding problems
stem, in part, from houses having been built years ago in low-lying
From there, flooding issues vary from municipality to municipality.
Darien officials put forward a plan to correct flooding near the
Heights Road culvert -- an undersized outlet beneath the Metro-North
Railroad tracks and Interstate 95. The application was denied by the
state Department of Environmental Protection, according to First
Selectwoman Evonne M. Klein.
"This is a complex project, because the area itself is densely
developed," Klein said. DEP officials "recognized the challenges of the
particular application. ... We are in the process of working on two
In Bridgeport, a plan to mitigate flooding along Ox Brook, which leaves
three feet of standing water in streets during heavy rains, is stalled,
according to state Rep. Jack Hennessey, D-127. He said the legislature
allocated $1 million to advance the plan. DEP officials certified the
"One of the things holding it up is a flood retention pond, in which we
have to purchase the properties, and we are still trying to negotiate
with the owners," Hennessey said.
Floodwaters in Venice Begin to
By RACHEL DONADIO
December 3, 2008
ROME — Floodwaters in Venice began to subside on Tuesday after reaching
their highest point in 22 years on Monday, forcing residents and
tourists alike to stay inside or venture out in hip-waders.
On Tuesday morning, waters had dropped to 39 inches, down from a high
of 61 inches on Monday, the fourth-highest flood level in contemporary
history, Venice’s Tide Center said.
“We sent out another warning about very high tides this morning,” said
Leonardo Cossutta, who runs the center’s control room. He said
transportation was returning to normal, although some canal ferries, or
vaporetti, were forced to take alternative routes because they could
not fit under the bridges. A transport union called off a planned
strike because of the floods.
This week’s flooding reached the highest levels since 1986 but were
still below the record of 76 inches reached in 1966. Venice sets the
flood level at 40 inches.
The waters rapidly flooded into shops and homes early Monday morning.
They engulfed the cafe tables in St. Mark’s Square and forced its
famous pigeons to find higher ground. In news photos, people waded
through the streets in high boots.
Because the water levels rose so quickly, the city was unable to erect
the wooden platforms it uses to help pedestrians traverse the high
waters. On Monday, the city sounded alarms, urging residents to stay
Venice routinely floods several times a year, but in recent years the
phenomenon has worsened. Experts say global warming is the main
culprit. The flooding reopened a running debate on the “Moses” project,
a controversial system of offshore dams designed to prevent such
Work began on the $5.5 billion project five years ago and is expected
to be completed around 2011. Had the dam system been in place, “it
would have prevented what happened yesterday and also today,” said
Flavia Faccioli, a spokeswoman for the state consortium that is
building the dams.
Some environmental groups oppose the project, calling instead for
reduced carbon emissions. “We’ve seen for a long time that global
warming presents problems for a city like Venice,” said Michele
Bertucco, the president of the Veneto branch of Legambiente, an
The mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, said the project was moving
forward, The Associated Press reported.