It may be months before some Westport families are able to return to their homes after Hurricane Sandy severly damaged or completely destroyed them.
Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff gave a Hurricane Sandy update during a Board of Finance meeting at Westport Town Hall Wednesday night.
“Sandy had a devastating impact on Westport. There was no loss of life or injury, but there were a few close calls,” Joseloff said.
Following the news of the death of an Easton Firefighter during the storm, Westport pulled its emergency responders off the streets. Emergency personnel only responded to life-threatening calls during the height of the storm.
“The measures we put into place and the planning that we had helped avoid serious injury to our personnel, who performed above and beyond the call of duty,” Joseloff said.
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In total, seven Westport homes were destroyed and left uninhabitable. 25 homes were damaged by trees and more than 250 homes were flooded.
There are several hundred homes in Westport that have been elevated in order to be in line with FEMA regulations. Those homes managed to survive the storm, according to Joseloff.
“The Town of Westport has been one of the most aggressive in promoting regulations and adherence to newly erected FEMA standard homes,” he said.
FEMA is slow in responding, though, according to Joseloff. Westport still has Hurricane Irene applications in the pipeline, he said. Any resident who sustained property damage from Hurricane Sandy should register with FEMA online or on the phone immediately, he said.
Several and on the west side of the Saugatuck River were impacted by the storm. Art’s Deli, which reopened on Monday, sustained heavy damages from the storm, and the losses were not covered by insurance, according to Joseloff.
Westport officials will be meeting with Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) in the future to review their performance during the storm.
“,” Joseloff said, adding that CL&P did improve its performance as time went on.
Joseloff plans to hold a public hearing with CL&P where residents will be able to ask questions, give their opinion on the company's performance and share ideas on ways to improve.
“People who can afford to have a generator - do not delay. If you didn’t have one for this storm, hopefully by now you’ve learned your lesson. I don’t think we can rely on CL&P,” Joseloff said. “Power is going to be out.”
FEMA assessors were in Westport for a preliminary assessment last week and the federal organization has compiled a list of every home and business in town that was damaged. FEMA assessors will visit each home and business to make an official assessment.
"I think there is no doubt that Fairfield County and the state of Connecticut will qualify for the 100 percent loan, but it is a long-term process,” Joseloff said, adding that there is an accelerated way to make some payments available immediately.
The Town of Westport may have to fund some costs in advance, which is currently being done, according to Joseloff.
“The jury is still out on the sand wall,” Joseloff said of the walls of sand that were built up on Compo Beach to defend against waves and the ocean swell. “We aren’t sure if we are going to do that again.”