This year has been a long journey for residents who live along the shoreline. Tropical Storm Irene was devastating and for many of us who were hit hard by this storm cleaning up has been a lesson in patience.
Since, Irene hit Connecticut on August 27, 2011, this last year has taught us that community and family matter the most. State officials report tropical storm Irene caused: $235 million in damage, two people died as a result of the storm and this was the most significant storm event since Hurricane Bob in 1991.
There are families who have rebuilt, others who have decided to sell and some who have decided to join forces and become pro-active. Neighbors are learning how to partner with government so they may understand new laws and work together to protect the shoreline and their property for generations to come.
Connecticut was eventually declared a disaster area which later brought $59.7 million in federal aid to the state. More than $600,000 went directly to the town of East Haven for repairs.
Neighbors, local leaders and I along with my colleagues at the state capitol also worked hard to pass two significant pieces of legislation: a direct result of Irene and the October Nor’easter. Both storms knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents and caused extensive property damage. The two new statutes are:
- An Act Enhancing Emergency Preparedness and Response which holds utility companies to higher standards of communication and response.
- An Act Concerning the Coastal Management and Shoreline Flood and Erosion Control structures Preservation which allows property owners the choice to protect their property with different methods of environmental preservation to stop erosion.
Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor’easter were also the catalysts for a statewide preparedness effort. The four-day storm readiness exercise was held in July.
The drill, coordinated by the state’s Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), was designed to improve communication between the state’s utility companies and state and local governments during an emergency or other natural disaster.
In all, 165 cities and towns took part along with the tribal nations. Experts tested a number of new protocols that were put in place after the two storms including:
- Improving communications for road clearing & utility restoration: Utility company crews worked with participating towns’ public works crews to execute a new “Make Safe” protocol that will enhance road clearance processes and communication.
- Activating local emergency operations centers (EOC): All participating towns had key local officials and leaders meet at their local EOC to simulate preparedness, response, and recovery planning.
- Establishing coordinated emergency shelters: Municipalities will exercise five multi-jurisdictional shelters (one in each DEMHS region) across the state in an effort to test sheltering capabilities.
We are resilient people. East Haven has survived a devastating hit and we have come out on the other side.
Sen. Len Fasano represents the 34th district towns of East Haven, North Haven and Wallingford.