One year ago this week, the town of Simsbury was dealt a hard financial blow after an extraordinarilly devestating snowstorm blanketed the region in wet, heavy snow before nature had fully prepared itself for winter.
Simsbury was one of the hardest-hit towns in the state and a report published by Connecticut Light and Power said that 100 percent of its Simsbury customers were left without power the day following the storm.
According to town officials, the cost of the October snowstorm was in the neighborhood of $4 million, an amount far beyond what the town budgets annually for winter storm cleanup. The enormous cost left the town with a second task of recouping the local tax dollars spent to get things back in working order.
In November, President Barack Obama declared seven of Connecticut's eight counties as disaster areas following the storm. Once the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved assistance for Connecticut towns, Simsbury Public Works Director Tom Roy got to work on the reimbursement process which would take him nearly one year.
In early October 2012, almost one year following the storm, Simsbury town officials finally received notice that it would receive its first FEMA reimbursement in the amount of $2,470,224 – the first of several payments expected to total nearly $3 million from both FEMA and the Federal Highway Administration.
The second FEMA payment is expected to be approximately $200,000 and the final reimbursement of approximately $400,000 will come from the FHWA.
Navigating the financial disaster relief process was not the only lesson learned by town officials following one of the worst storms to hit the town. In August, Simsbury was one of 160 Conn. towns to participate in a statewide disaster relief exercise to identify gaps and problem areas in the town's response to large-scale emergencies.
"There were some very productive discussions, in particular between the town and the liaison from CL&P," Director of Administrative Services Tom Cooke said following the two-day exercise.
Town officials agreed that it was a hard lesson to learn, but one that has left them better prepared for any future townwide emergencies should they find themselves facing another disaster.