By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSENNEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) â¿¿ More than $367 million in federal assistance has been approved to help the state with disaster expenses related to Superstorm Sandy, Conn. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday as other officials highlighted recovery needs along the shoreline. The funding is for short-term rental assistance and home repair costs, medical and dental expenses, lost personal possessions, low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations and disaster unemployment assistance. More than 12,000 residents registered for federal disaster assistance. Nearly 6,000 flood insurance claims totaling $220 million have been paid, representing more than 96 percent of the total National Flood Insurance Program claims in the state following the late October storm, officials said. Additional federal funding is going to rebuilding and recovery efforts and repairs to roads and bridges. "As the recovery process continues," Malloy said, "these funds have helped many homeowners and businesses get back on their feet." Malloy, a Democrat, last month released a draft plan related to $71 million in additional funding to the state. He said that proposed plan, which will be considered by lawmakers next week, is designed to help communities most affected by the storm rebuild in a way that makes them more resilient to storms. Superstorm Sandy, which was spawned when Hurricane Sandy merged with two other weather systems, caused more than 150 deaths nationwide and $50 billion in damage, the National Hurricane Center said. In Connecticut, a few deaths were reported and hundreds of thousands of business and residential customers lost power. Officials toured New Haven's Sound School, which suffered $500,000 to $1 million in damage from Sandy, and viewed storm damage in Bridgeport and Stamford. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, cited numerous needs, including repairing sea walls, addressing beach erosion and dredging harbors, and said coastal towns need federal assistance to make the repairs. Officials also noted some residents are still displaced from their homes.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also a Democrat, said about 3,000 homes were severely damaged in the state, including about 1,000 left uninhabitable. He said he wants to make sure the costs of the storm are not forgotten."The effort here has to be more than just recover and repair," Blumenthal said. "The new normal is catastrophic storms, and we need to be prepared for the new normal." The executive director of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, Laurel Blatchford, assured officials the state has not been forgotten and the federal government will continue to provide support. The task force was established by President Barack Obama in December to help local communities rebuild and better withstand future storms.