FEMA denies tornado assistance funds for individuals, Litchfield County
The deadly tornadoes that crushed homes, closed roads and caused millions of dollars in property damage three months ago may have been the worst that some residents have ever seen.
But that doesn’t mean the federal government will help every victim of the natural disaster.
News last week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would reimburse local governments in Fairfield and New Haven counties up to 70 percent for storm cleanup costs was followed by a notice that FEMA would not reimburse claims by individual homeowners.
Nor will FEMA honor claims made by three Litchfield County towns — New Milford, Bridgewater and Roxbury.
The FEMA ruling came in a letter to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“The damage from this event was significant in each of the designated areas,” wrote Jeff Byard, associate administrator of the office of response and recovery at FEMA. “However, based on our review of all the information available ... it has been determined that the impact to the individuals and households from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of individual assistance ...”
That means that in hard-hit communities such as Oxford — where the first selectman estimated the May 15 storm caused at least $30 million in property damage — homeowners will have to bear the cost themselves.
New Milford’s Rob Doscher isn’t buying that.
The storm’s 110-mph winds blew a large oak tree onto his home and downed another three dozen trees on his property, causing at least $100,000 in damage.
“It’s disappointing to hear FEMA thinks this didn’t rise to their level for assistance,” Doscher said, adding that his home is still undergoing repairs. “Some people in town had it worse - they lost their homes.”
Malloy has 30 days to appeal FEMA’s denial.
A spokesman for the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection would only say that Connecticut is considering its next steps.
Malloy asked for $13 million in disaster relief after the May 15 tornadoes that killed two people and damaged infrastructure in Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield counties.
President Donald Trump on Aug. 20 declared the region a federal disaster area, entitling cities and towns in those counties to financial assistance.