Lawmakers tour Hamden ahead of FEMA damage assessment

New Haven

As the town of Hamden works to recover from last months tornado, public officials geared up for an important tour.

FEMA officials will be looking at the damage on Monday but Friday, the Mayor of Hamden and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal took their own tour of the damage.

Related: Hamden tornado cleanup stretches into week

Four weeks ago, Alan Edelman lived surrounded by trees. Three and a half weeks ago, the Hamden tornado changed all that.

Destruction. Trees everywhere, broken off in half, bent over, Edelman said. “My entire driveway was impassable.”

His garage was crushed by three of those trees. When he called up his insurance company, he was told they would pay to clear enough trees so a car could get to his house, but that’s it.

“I’m covered to clean up my driveway, basically, and everything else is on us, in terms of cost,” said Edelman. “The cost is huge.”

He’s not alone. When a group of 30 homeowners was asked who has been told their insurance won’t cover tree work, at least 10 hands went up.

“Insurance companies and the folks that they send out, their estimators, are coming and really, I think, in many cases, giving the wrong information,” said State Senator George Logan, (R) Hamden.

Logan was part of a group of politicians meeting with residents along Still Hill Road. That’s where every property suffered some sort of damage.

“The damage will be corrected, but the federal government owes us the kind of aid that this community needs and deserves,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told residents.

Blumenthal says there is no question this qualifies as a disaster. On Monday, officials from FEMA will be touring the damage in person to determine that. A disaster declaration could mean loans and grants would be available. At least eventually, because that process can take months, if not years. Homeowners like Alan Edelman say they need the federal help.

“Because the damage is overwhelming,” Edelman said. “It’s going to eat into my retirement, and eventually we’re going to burden the government anyway, because we can’t afford to retire.”

Regardless of what FEMA sees or says on Monday, Mayor Curt Leng, (D) Hamden, says there will be a neighborhood meeting in about two weeks – no exact date yet. By then, he thinks the town and state governments will have a better idea what they can do to help people, and what folks can do if they feel their insurance companies are not making them whole. 

Leng tells News 8 that FEMA will send two teams in on Monday. One will look at public areas, another will look at private property. The meeting is expected to begin at 10 a.m.

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