United States Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano came to Connecticut Thursday to review the massive damage left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
"This is the time when we need to be here," Napolitano said during a press conference with state legislators and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at Housatonic Community College Thursday. "This is the time we need to be working closely together."
Malloy along with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Jim Himes (CT-4) and other members of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation met in Bridgeport on Thursday to tour some of the damage.
"It is one thing to hear about damage, it is another thing to see the damage," Napolitano said.
Malloy said he wanted Napolitano to see the damage firsthand to help get federal funding for the whole state.
"We need to begin helping get people back in their homes. We need to be getting communities restored. We need to make sure the infrastructure of this state is made whole," Napolitano said. "And we understand the urgency of the situation."
A declaration announced earlier this week will allow the counties of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London "to receive important federal assistance that will supplement the state and local recovery efforts," Malloy said.
However, Malloy wants funding for the whole state. Napolitano and FEMA are expected to assess other parts of the state to determine if other counties will receive funding.
"When I spoke with the president earlier today, he made it clear that the federal government was going to do everything in its power to help our residents get back to normal as quickly as possible," he said. "The fact that this declaration happened so quickly is a real testament to that."
The declaration will provide 75 percent federal funding for protective measures and debris removal taken by state and local agencies.
"For now, we're focused on doing what we can to get federal aid, get people help they need, get lights back on and get their lives back to normal," Malloy said during his media briefing Thursday evening.
Malloy announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Transportation approved $2 million in emergency funding for infrastructure repairs.
The Route 162 bridge over the Oyster River in West Haven. The bridge is open and safe, but guide rail and other material on the bridge approaches were severely damaged.
The seawall in Old Saybrook. The area is not a danger to the motoring public, but does need a number of repairs.
The traffic signal at the intersection of Routes 302 and 58 in Bethel. The signal was taken completely down by winds and falling trees.
"We are grateful for the US DOT's quick response to our request," Malloy said in a statement Thursday. "This is money that we can put to use immediately to help rebuild in the wake of this devastating storm."
Malloy said assistance from FEMA is available and Connecticut residents need to call 800-621-FEMA(3262)or for people with hearing disabilities at 800-462-7585.
"To make filing a claim easier, take photos of any damaged property," Malloy said. "Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to prepare your estimate."
Amtrak will open reopen service from Grand Central to New Haven on Friday and fares will be waved for Connecticut residents. Service has not been returned to New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branch lines.
"If you're without power, we understand frustration is growing," Malloy said. "Will do our best to hold utilities accountable."
United illuminating said it expects to restore power to 95 percent of its customers before midnight Monday. Connecticut Light & Power said it is estimating 98 percent of customers that remain in the dark will have power restored by Tuesday.
"I told the utilities in a blunt fashion that I want them to perform better than the projections they announced today," Malloy said.
A law passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2011 "subject financial penalties on utilities in the event that they do not meet established performance standards" and states "if 10 percent of customers are out for longer than two days, then their utility provider will be subject to review by PURA."
During the press conference Thursday morning in Bridgeport, Napolitano said good relationships had been established during Hurricane Irene and many shelters have already been set up.
"We are going to continue to work this storm. We are going to continue to bring the resources that we can," she said. "We will work very closely with the governor."
This was Napolitano's second visit to the Nutmeg State in 14 months. Last year she toured areas damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in the Cosey Beach section of East Haven in September 2011.
As of Thursday night, there has been 82 people who have died from causes related to Hurricane Sandy with four of them in Connecticut.
There have been 26 cases of CO Poisoning because of generators. People are advised to keep generators outside and 25 feet away from homes and windows.
Earlier in the day, Malloy spoke with President Barrack Obama, who called him from Air Force One and participated in a conference call with several other state officials and the president.
Later in the day, Malloy and Wyman went to Rentschler Field where they handed out food and water to shelter workers.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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