Waterford still calculating storm costs

Waterford – The town’s buildings and homes sustained very little structural damage during Superstorm Sandy, but its beaches, their dunes and alcoves were nearly destroyed, the first selectman told the Board of Finance meeting Wednesday.

The financial impact of the storm on the town is yet to be determined, First Selectman Daniel Steward said, as bills are just beginning to come in and the town has to calculate its expenses for FEMA reimbursement.

During the storm there were many town employees who were paid overtime, including police, who performed extra patrols in neighborhoods when the power was out to ensure there weren’t any burglaries happening in vacant homes.

“In this environment, comp time is non-reimbursable through FEMA,” Steward said. “On one of my daily conference calls, President Obama said he was going to reimburse us 100 percent of our costs, but that was probably not a fully accurate statement.”

Steward said that there are some FEMA expense categories that will be fully funded, but more likely FEMA will reimburse the town for 75 percent of its expenses.

“It won’t be break even, but it will be very close and I don’t think it will have an impact on our overall budget,” he said.

While one house on Mullen Hill is uninhabitable, Steward said there was no other major damage except to the town’s beaches.

The sand dunes at Harkness Memorial State Park, Alewife Cove and Pleasure Beach were practically eliminated and the pavilions at Harkness were damaged severely, Steward said.  There was also damage to the seawalls on The Strand.

Steward also offered some criticism of the restoration of electricity by Connecticut Light & Power.

Many of the town’s residents were without power for most of the week, with some of the hardest hit neighborhoods being Great Neck and Quaker Hill.

“Were they as speedy as we would have liked, No. Did they do a good job, I guess so,” he said. “I don’t think the crews were getting the communication they should have been getting from upper management. It’s a very convoluted system that CL&P has.”


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