The power of community spirit never ceases to amaze me, and we saw it in action recently when Hurricane Irene ripped over Connecticut’s landscape.
Powerful gusts and sustained winds sent tree branches crashing to the ground, damaging homes and vehicles—and everything in between. Trees were uprooted. Torrential rains pushed rivers beyond their maximum and left meandering streams looking like rivers. Through it all, our local first responders—many of them volunteers with their own problems at home—kept watch during the maelstrom and raced about town to help us as emergencies popped up.
I’ve also heard story after story of neighbor helping neighbor—something I experienced firsthand. Irene left me to deal with a lousy situation faced by a great many people in Connecticut: A house without electricity and a badly-flooded basement. At my wit’s end, I let a few people know that I needed a generator—and fast. Word traveled through the grapevine and within hours I had the help I needed.
For me, that experience helped me through the frustration that came with working with Connecticut Light & Power officials to get service restored to everyone in our area. Of course, the company had a difficult job ahead of it. But given the advance notice of the storm’s potential, I certainly wondered whether the company was prepared as it could have been—and if it managed its resources as best as it could. A lot of my constituents have asked similar questions, and I believe they’ll be answered after the dust from Irene has settled. Several of my colleagues at the Capitol have called for inquiries on preparedness and response issues. So far, federal officials say the response time from Connecticut’s utility companies has been “at par or above par.”
That issue aside, it’s important that residents and business owners whose property sustained Irene-related damage report it to the state’s free Infoline by calling 2-1-1 or visiting www.211ct.org. The state will collect your data and use it in preparation for a disaster declaration request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
And as you turn an eye toward filing insurance reports and making repairs to your property, please consider using as resources the state’s departments on Insurance (www.ct.gov/ins) and Consumer Protection (www.ct.gov/dcp). Both agencies offer tips about both filing insurance claims and choosing reputable contractors.
If you or someone you know owns a business, get in touch with the Department of Economic and Community Development (www.ct.gov/ecd). The state agency has a
comprehensive business assistance program to help companies affected by the storm, including loans, grants and technical assistance liking businesses to resources.
Through these great resources and others, life in Connecticut communities will get back to normal in due time. Here in Wolcott, our people—our greatest resource—had us in good shape even before the storm hit. My good friend, Sen. Joe Markley, always says that if there is a better town to live in than Wolcott, he wants to see it. I couldn’t agree with the senator more. Whether it’s the Wolcott Lions hosting the Wolcott Fair last month or the many civic organizations here in town, people in Wolcott always seem ready to help their neighbors. Consider Erin Ward and Brianna Smail, who I helped honor at a recent event for their efforts on behalf of the Animal Rescue Foundation. Or folks at the Wolcott Food Pantry, who I joined on the town green recently to collect items for our neediest friends and neighbors. And there are the members of the Wolcott Landowners Association, who I joined when they held an event benefitting breast cancer research.
In this community, help is always right around the corner.