On Wednesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced he has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help in the state’s effort to assist homeowners with crumbling foundations.
In a letter to the FEMA administrator, Malloy says that tens of thousands of residents in Connecticut are at risk, adding that the federal assistance and expertise of FEMA is critical.
“In April 2016, the Lieutenant Governor and I directed the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) to contact FEMA Region 1 to investigate what assistance the agency could provide these homeowners,” Malloy wrote. “The informal response we received back in an email from the FEMA Regional Administrator was that the crumbling foundation issue did not appear to constitute an emergency or major disaster. Instead, it was suggested that it might be a consumer product defect or construction safety issue, similar in nature to the 2010 Chinese drywall issue in Florida, which resulted in corroded copper and affected air-conditioning and heating units, but was not considered by FEMA to be an emergency or major disaster.
“Since that time of our informal request to FEMA Region 1, we have further scientific information that this potentially catastrophic damage appears to be the result of a natural disaster – specifically the reaction of a naturally occurring mineral, pyrrhotite, to oxygen and water. Pyrrhotite is an iron sulfide mineral, thus exposure to oxygen and water leads to a chemical reaction which results in deterioration, and disastrous results for a home foundation.”
In a press release, Malloy continued to say that "there are not any state or national building standards that regulate the percentage of pyrrhotite allowed in aggregate used for residential or commercial foundations."
Last month, Malloy met with several homeowners outside of his Hartford home to discuss the situation on the crumbling foundations.
The governor had said that there is only so much the state can do. He encouraged all those impacted to come forward to put pressure on the insurance companies.
On Friday, FEMA said there was no formal response to the Governor’s request. They said the crumbling foundation situation in Connecticut could potentially warrant Stafford Act assistance.
"The Stafford Act defines a major disaster as any natural catastrophe or, regardless of cause, and fire, flood, or explosion which, in the determination of the President, causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance to supplement the efforts and available resources of states, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby. It defines an emergency as any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, federal assistance is needed to supplement state and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe," FEMA said in a statement on Friday.
FEMA officials added that the "crumbling foundation conditions experienced by individuals does not appear to constitute an emergency or major disaster. Rather, this appears to be a consumer product or construction safety issue, something which FEMA has previously not treated as constituting an emergency or major disaster incident as contemplated by the Stafford Act."
To read the full letter, click here.
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