In a briefing to the Board of Finance Wednesday night, First Selectman Dan Steward reported that Superstorm Sandy injured no one in Waterford, did not cause an overwhelming amount of property damage in town and will have minimal financial impact to the town.
Steward said one home on Mullen Hill Road was destroyed after a tree fell on it and one garage was destroyed on Fifth Avenue after it suffered the same fate. Other than that, the main damage in town was to people’s sea walls and to Waterford’s beaches, he said.
“Our frontage on the ocean got hurt,” Steward said.
The sand dunes at Waterford Beach and Pleasure Beach were both hit hard, and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is streamlining its permitting process to allow the town to fix them quickly. The beaches of Camp Harkness and Harkness Park were also hit hard, although that is the state’s responsibility, Steward said. He added that the beach alongside Windward Way was hit hard but that is a privately-owned beach.
Steward said President Barack Obama got on a conference call with the governor and all the first selectmen and mayors of towns in Connecticut and said the federal government would pay for 100 percent of the cost of coping with the disaster. Steward said that “probably was not a correct statement,” although said he was hopeful.
Generally, the federal government via FEMA pays 75 percent of the cost of all expenses. He said he wasn’t sure if now FEMA would pick up 100 percent of the expenses, but said he would find out soon.
He said the main costs were labor, particularly overtime to police officers and other town employees. He said administrators were paid overtime instead of given compensation time (in other words, they would get time off later) because FEMA reimburses overtime and not compensation time.
Even if FEMA reimburses 75 percent of the costs, Steward said he does not expect to see a large impact on the town's budget. He added that he was proud of his town employees and the work they did during the storm.