There were at least 132 homes in Connecticut that were destroyed or severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and at least 70 businesses have indicated to state officials that their operations sustained damage in the storm as well, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday.
Malloy again urged residents and business owners to call the state’s information line, 211, to report storm damage to their properties. Doing so, he said, would help Connecticut in its effort to get the federal government to declare the state a disaster area, which would bring millions of dollars to Connecticut in disaster relief aid.
Malloy, during a daily briefing at the State Armory in Hartford, said officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are still canvassing the state and collecting information to determine if Connecticut deserves such a declaration.
Malloy urged residents and business owners to look beyond obvious signs of damage, such as a home’s roof hit by a tree, to other types of damages, such as to water or septic systems.
He also said the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development is “reaching out” to local chambers of commerce to see how their members are faring and how the storm has affected them.
Businesses in Fairfield and Litchfield counties affected by Irene might be eligible now for aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration because they border New York, which was declared a disaster area by President Obama on Wednesday. Under federal law, any financial aid that businesses in bordering counties in New York get access to under that disaster declaration are also available to businesses in the two Connecticut counties.
Asked whether he was satisfied with the power restoration job being undertaken by CL&P, Malloy said. “I’m not satisfied in the sense that we still have 210,000 customers without power.” He added, however, that CL&P’s progress “is in keeping with what was forecast last week.”
Malloy also said the University of Connecticut will play a football game Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, which has served as a staging area for emergency relief supplies for municipalities. The game was rescheduled from today because of concerns that it would disrupt the distribution of supplies and the vehicles coming to the field to pick them up. Malloy said that with most of CL&P’s customers projected to have power back by Saturday, there probably won’t be many people coming to the field for emergency rations that day.
Allowing the game to go forward, he added, would help return a sense of normalcy.
“I’m anxious to return our state back,” he said. “Returning to normalcy is important for some folks.”
As part of that effort, the governor has directed the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to waive admission fees for the coming holiday weekend to state parks and beaches. The open admission will not apply to overnight campgrounds, Malloy added.
In a press release issued earlier today, DECD Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said the free admission begins Friday and runs through Monday. The move, he said, could help provide some relief to the thousands of residents who are going into the holiday weekend without power still.
“We know there are still many residents of our state waiting for the power to come back on and still working to recover from the storm. But, we hope that as many people as possible will take advantage of the governor’s offer and get outside to enjoy a relaxing day at one of our parks over the holiday.”