One of the quirks of this week’s widely-criticized decision by the state to deny emergency storm aid to shoreline property owners to move their homes to higher ground is that two of the applicants were from land-locked Oxford.
That’s right, Oxford.
Well, one of the applicants who was rebuffed reached out to Hearst Connecticut Newspapers to share her story.
Donna Stone says she requested $200,000 from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to elevate her Roosevelt Drive home by nine feet to protect it from the flood waters of the nearby Housatonic River, which she said has rendered much of her basement useless since Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
Stone’s home of 20 years is located south of the Stevenson Dam, which she said makes her neighborhood prone to flooding.
“If you stand on my deck, it’s like a houseboat,” said Stone, who is retired. “This is ridiculous. Where’s our money?”
While most of the individual property owners who requested funding to raise their homes were affected by Superstorm Sandy, Stone applied to the program and was aided by Oxford officials during the process.
“We had to pay for elevation certificates,” Stone said. “We had to pay for a structural engineer. I’ve got a whole bag full of papers. I had over four feet of water in my house.”
The state says the money would be better spent hardening infrastructure such as seawalls, bridges, levees and wastewater treatment plants, a decision that has baffled the leaders of a number of coastal towns and owners of the most vulnerable homes.
The state Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection defended its funding criteria, saying that there are at least two other avenues for residents to move their homes out of harm’s way with public assistance, including a Shoreline Resiliency Fund announced by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on the first anniversary of Sandy.
It’s unclear whether inland properties such as Stone’s are eligible for the low-interest loan program, which was seeded $2 million late last year and could receive an additional $25 million in funding this year.
Stone’s basement is finished — in more than one way.
“I’m paying taxes on spots that can’t be used downstairs,” Stone said.