Connecticut’s Congressional delegation has asked President Obama to declare Fairfield County a major disaster area from the June 24 tornado in order to make federal aid available to Bridgeport and Stratford residents, businesses and municipalities.
Here’s the letter, dated Monday:
“The Honorable Barack Obama
The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write in strong support of the request submitted by the State of Connecticut on August 20, 2010 for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to declare a major disaster for Fairfield County as a result of severe weather, including a tornado, which occurred on June 24, 2010. The impacted communities will require both Individual and Public Assistance to recover from the severity and magnitude of the damages.
According to the National Weather Service, an EF 1 Tornado touched down in the City of Bridgeport with winds of at least 100 miles per hour and severe storms impacting neighboring communities, including Stratford and Trumbull. An example of the tornado’s concentrated damage can be measured in Bridgeport, where nine buildings were partially or fully collapsed, including at least three that were destroyed to their foundation. Fifty Bridgeport families, mostly renters without insurance, were left temporarily homeless. Some roads within the city still remain closed.
The damages, which are mostly localized in Bridgeport and Stratford, are estimated to exceed $3 million. Since Connecticut does not have a county government, the financial burden falls disproportionately on the state and these municipalities. By the State of Connecticut’s estimates, the damage amounts to $15.27 per capita in Bridgeport and $16.91 per capita in Stratford—figures more than five times the current per capita county indicator for federal disaster assistance and more than 12 times the statewide indicator.
The City of Bridgeport is one of the most economically distressed communities in the country. While the unemployment rate in Fairfield County is 8.0 percent, the City of Bridgeport faces a striking 13.7 percent. In the East Side of Bridgeport, where the tornado touched down and caused some of the most devastating damage, 42 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
The severity of damage and the impact on families and businesses in Bridgeport and Stratford is sizable. Their recovery efforts are compounded by March’s storms and flooding across the state, which was declared a major disaster. Connecticut is in desperate need of federal assistance to respond to this severe weather event that will only become available with the declaration of a major disaster. Therefore, we strongly support the State’s request for federal assistance and urge you to make this declaration.
We appreciate your consideration and timely attention to this request on behalf of the people of Connecticut.
Christopher J. Dodd
Joseph I. Lieberman
Rosa L. DeLauro
John B. Larson
Christopher S. Murphy”