Storm funding trickles into Danbury-area towns

Nearly one and a half years later, money is trickling in from the federal government to reimburse towns for the expenses from the macroburst and tornado.

Ridgefield and Southbury were told last week they would receive most of what they asked for from the Federal Emergency Management Agency while Brookfield has already started to get checks.

The agency has obligated $4.3 million in grants to the state, which must disperse the money to towns in Fairfield and New Haven counties affected by the May 2018 storm. Some Fairfield County towns were hit with a macroburst that took down trees and damaged homes while a tornado touched down in a few New Haven County towns, including Southbury.

The storms were officially declared a “disaster” in August 2018, which meant the towns were eligible for funding. Towns in Litchfield County, such as New Milford, were not eligible for funding because damage there was not as costly.

Southbury can expect about $1.07 million from the agency. This is 75 percent of the 1.4 million the town spent recovering from the tornado.

“This is great news for the town,” Southbury First Selectman Jeff Manville said in a press release. “I want to thank FEMA, at both the state and federal level for their assistance and support throughout the application and reimbursement process. My staff did an exceptional job following all the proper and necessary procedures to make this happen on behalf of the town.”

In Brookfield, nearly all homes and businesses lost power after the storm, which cost the town about $1.7 million.

The town got its first $7,000 payment from the agency a few months ago, but has since received $53,000, said Greg Dembowski, who organized Brookfield’s application. The town expects to eventually receive about $1.34 million, he said.

The agency has told the town it is still reviewing parts of the claim, so officials do not know when to expect the full payment.

“At this point, there are no outstanding issues or questions,” Dembowski said. “Everything has been answered.”

Brookfield plans to put this money back in its general fund.

New Fairfield has earned about $71,400 so far, but expects to receive at least $1 million, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco said. That money was for damage to town buildings and equipment, as well as costs for police, fire, ambulances, generator usage and the emergency shelter, she said.

Other aspects of the application are still under review, Del Monaco said. This includes the reimbursement to clean up fallen trees.

“The biggest category for us is debris removal,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ridgefield anticipates receiving $95,800. The town was not hit as hard as Brookfield, New Fairfield or Southbury and spent about $127,000 on recovery.

“Ridgefield was very lucky with respect to the path of that storm,” Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

Marconi expects the town will get one check, rather than separate ones, as Brookfield has. He plans to ask the selectmen and finance boards to put the money in the tree warden’s budget to be used to help clear dying ash trees, which can fall on power lines and roads.

“Many of these trees that are dying across the state are in areas that are an endangerment to public safety, to the general public,” Marconi said. “Along our roads, the public right-of-ways, is where we’re looking to identify these trees and have them removed.”