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Malloy to seek law to manage distribution of disaster relief

By Kimberly Drelich

Publication: The Day

Published January 29. 2013 4:00AM
Old Saybrook, Old Lyme rebuilding after Sandy

On the day the governor announced a proposed law to help collect and distribute donations for disaster relief, officials from two storm-damaged shoreline towns said they have seen increasing numbers of contractors or residents seeking the permits needed to rebuild homes after Superstorm Sandy.

As Old Saybrook and Old Lyme rebuild, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Monday that he'll seek legislation for a new way to manage and distribute private contributions after emergency situations. The Connecticut Coordinated Assistance and Recovery Endowment, or CT CARE Fund, would enable the state to set up accounts for specific emergency situations and distribute funds according to the donor's specification, essentially speeding up the process for disaster relief, according to a press release.

"The CT CARE Fund builds on important progress we have made in responding to natural disasters and other emergencies-and improving the state's resiliency," Malloy said. "Working in conjunction with state and municipal emergency officials, this fund will provide a trusted venue for donors, and will help us get needed assistance to victims quickly."

On Monday, Malloy toured storm-battered homes in Old Saybrook's Chalker Beach with First Selectman Carl Fortuna. The hurricane destroyed five houses, including two that burned. The storm also significantly damaged 40 homes, moderately damaged others and battered restaurants, such as the Dock & Dine, said Fortuna in an interview. It also caused about $300,000 in damages to the miniature golf course at Saybrook Point, which generated significant revenue for the town and provided relatively inexpensive entertainment for families and children, said Fortuna.

Fortuna said he thought the law, which Gov. Malloy will present with other bills on Feb. 6, was a good idea.

"I think it could be helpful in the event of a disaster, man-made or natural," said Fortuna. The fund, in line with the governor's efforts to make the state more "user-friendly," could easily allocate funds to where they are needed, he said.

Residents are rebuilding, as the town's building department has experienced a "spike" in individuals seeking to obtain permits, said Fortuna. For example, new building code, which the town added when implementing its new FEMA floodplain management ordinance, requires homeowners to raise their houses if the houses have been damaged by 50 percent or more.

In nearby Old Lyme, officials deemed more than 200 houses as "uninhabitable," because of storm damage and electrical problems. Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Director David Roberge said contractors are seeking building permits, but fewer residents, since the fall, have come to Town Hall with storm-related questions. Town officials anticipate more visits from residents and repairs this spring, due to the warmer weather, he said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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