Washington — President Obama has fast-tracked approval of a declaration of a major disaster in four storm-hit coastal counties — and two Connecticut tribes — to allow their residents to apply for a variety of federal aid.
Under the declaration announced late Tuesday, residents of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribal Nation in New London County are eligible for temporary housing payments, grants to repair homes, extended unemployment benefits and low-interest loans to businesses and farms.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he would continue to press the Obama administration to declare the entire state a major disaster area and that “in the coming days” state officials and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will be conducting damage assessments to determine if additional counties may be eligible for assistance.
But Malloy said “it was crazy to ask for a survey” to declare the coastal counties disaster areas.
The declaration also allows local governments said in the hard-hit counties to receive up to 75 percent of reimbursements for the cost of emergency protective measures and debris removal.
Malloy said he spoke to members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation “to make the case” for speedy approval of federal relief.
The governor, who toured part of the Connecticut coastline Tuesday, said the number of damaged homes are “in the hundreds.”
He also attributed four deaths to the storm.
A week from Election Day, Obama responded quickly to other requests for help.
After late-night conversations with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday, the president approved disaster declarations for the states hardest hit by the storm.
“This is extraordinary in that generally we do more thorough assessments, and [those] oftentimes will take longer,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
“But because of the extent of the damage, it was evident to the president in the conversations with the governors that he would do this as a verbal declaration.”
FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.