FEMA's visit is the next step in tornado recovery - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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FEMA's visit is the next step in tornado recovery

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Debris continued to pile up in a lot in Hamden weeks after a tornado touched down. (WFSB) Debris continued to pile up in a lot in Hamden weeks after a tornado touched down. (WFSB)
HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) -

Federal officials visited several communities in Connecticut on Monday to assess damage from last month's tornadoes.

Tornadoes touched down in several communities as part of a storm system that brought strong winds, rain, and hail.

Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, met with lawmakers outside of Hamden's public works department, touring the damage.

Three EF1 tornadoes, a macroburst, and a microburst hit the state on May 15.

"This tornado wrecked homes, businesses, parks, trees, utilities. The cost is in the tens of million if not in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

The storm uprooted trees, knocked out power, destroyed homes and made roads impassable. See some of that damage here.

It took several days to get power back on in some areas.

Nearly a month later, a few places are still picking up damage.

“Hopefully, tornados are like lightning. They never strike twice in the same place," said Jim Apuzzo of Hamden. "Hopefully, this is the first and last time.”

Apuzzo said he's been working on his property on Sill Hill Road.

“If I had to work on it every day, I would probably say a good couple of weeks left," Apuzzo said. "[There are] broken trees and a lot of debris in the back of the workshop.”

Louis Bertuccini, a 96-year-old World War II veteran, said he still remembers the day he moved into his Hamden home in September of 1961.

"My wife and I whom I loved dearly, designed the house, had it built, then lived here until she died of cancer. And they kept telling me to move out you're alone. The memories are here," he said, adding that he's never had any major issues.

When the storm hit on May 15 and an EF1 tornado touched down in town, a tree hit his roof.

Knocked out of power, Bertuccini went to stay with his sister.

"My sister had invited me because we were without power to stay with her, and I went there for two days, and for two days water flowed through the house,” he said.

The tree that had hit his house had broken a water connection, and when he came back home it was a disaster on every floor.

FEMA is conducting a preliminary damage assessment in the hardest hit spots.

The assessment is the next step needed in submitting a formal request for a disaster declaration.

“It will be followed by a disaster declaration by the Governor, I’m quite confident. I’m quite confident," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal. "Then we will need to fight, and I mean fight, for the president to recognize that federal aid is absolutely necessary as a matter of fairness and justice.”

Once that happens and the federal government declares parts of Connecticut a disaster area, that opens the doors for cities and towns to get federal dollars to help reimburse them for the millions of dollars used in cleanup expenses.

Blumenthal and Rep. Rosa DeLauro were in Hamden on Monday morning. They'll be part of the assessment.

“We will be pushing hard, very, very hard, for that presidential declaration," DeLauro said. "And then we can see the process move into place.”

During FEMA's time in Connecticut will include stops in Brookfield, New Fairfield, Oxford, Bethany, New Milford, Ridgefield, Winsted, Roxbury, Newtown, Bethel and Hamden.

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