Gov. Malloy: Five Years After Superstorm Sandy, Connecticut Has Made Significant Storm Resiliency Improvements
Governor Urges President Trump to Recommit to Paris Agreement as Climate Change Continues to Impact the Nation
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and officials from across state government – on the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy – today highlighted the progress made over the last several years to strengthen resiliency and harden infrastructure from future potential storms, as severe weather has continued to severely impact our nation. Superstorm Sandy was one of the biggest natural disasters to hit Connecticut in more than 60 years, the Governor said.
“In the years that have passed since Superstorm Sandy and other significant weather events, we have made substantial progress to ensure that our state can weather the effect of climate change,” Governor Malloy said. “We have taken a number of steps that are strengthening our resilience against future storms, including creating the nation’s first microgrid program, investing millions to hardening infrastructure along our shoreline to protect from flooding, designating thousands of acres of forest along our shoreline as open space that serve as a coastal buffer against storm waters, and we’ve made significant investments to protect housing in flood-prone areas.”
The Governor said that while the state has made significant progress on these fronts, more needs to be done to combat the impact of climate change, which has resulted in an increase in the frequency and power of storms.
“Connecticut is committed to reducing carbon emissions, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, but states must not be alone in this effort,” he stated. “Rather than reversing course and isolating ourselves, the United States federal government must show international leadership on the most pressing global issue of our lifetimes. I am once again urging President Trump to recommit the United States to following the terms of the Paris Agreement.”
“Climate change action is critical for saving lives, reducing property damage, and building an innovative economy that is responsive to our modern world,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “Connecticut has shown strong leadership on the environment, establishing carbon pollution reduction goals and subsequently examining how every sector in our state impacts meeting those goals. We will continue this progress, but we must have the partnership of the federal government and every nation across the globe if we are to truly protect ourselves from the dangers of a changing climate.”
“Superstorm Sandy will go down in history as one of the most destructive natural disasters to ever hit our state,” Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne M. Klein said. “Under the steadfast leadership of Governor Malloy, Connecticut was able to return to ‘normal’ as quickly and as safely as possible. As the state continues to rebuild, we are doing so with the understanding that another storm of this magnitude could hit Connecticut again. Which is why we continue upgrading our infrastructure as well as rehabilitating and building homes that are more resilient to this type of storm.”
“Here in Connecticut we understand science and recognize that climate change is real and that it is happening all around us,” Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee said. “With the leadership of Governor Malloy, our state has taken steps to build a clean energy economy to reduce emissions of carbon into our atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. At the same time, we are moving forward to address, in an environmentally sound way, the very real impacts of changes we are already seeing. We are determined to continue moving forward to protect our residents, their safety, and their property from increasing storm surges and flooding we expect to see along our shore – as well as flooding along inland water ways.”
“Hardening Connecticut’s infrastructure – particularly our rail infrastructure which serves tens of thousands of people every day – has been a priority at the DOT for years now,” Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker said. “At the New Haven Rail Yard, our facilities are being built well above federal flood standards to minimize potential damage and protect our rail investments. Connecticut has spent more than $2 billion in recent years on rail improvements, including new train cars, new power upgrades and state-of-the-art maintenance facilities.”
“We cannot become complacent, not now, not ever,” Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro said. “Sandy, Harvey, Irma, and Maria are all stark reminders that planning and preparation are vital to our response, recovery, and resiliency to any disaster or emergency we may face. As we have witnessed, one storm can have a devastating impact on our state. Now is the time to prepare and become acquainted with the weather hazards to which your community may be prone, such as storm surge, areas that flood, and road or bridge closures.”
“Helping people find jobs is a priority at the Labor Department, and the federal grants allowed us put unemployed residents to work, assist with storm clean up, and provide workforce training with the goal of transitioning people from temporary jobs to real careers,” Department of Labor Commissioner Scott D. Jackson said. “In addition to removing debris and rebuilding walkways, participants received training in first aid, CPR certification, tool safety instruction and OSHA-10 certification – skills to make them more marketable to future employers.”
In the five years since Superstorm Sandy hit Connecticut, some of the action steps the state has taken to strengthen storm resiliency includes:
Department of Housing
- Assisted over 200 households with design services for rebuilding and repair.
- Elevated over 100 homes above the flood plain making them more resilient to withstand future storms.
- Reimbursed over 180 households for expenses incurred while repairing their damaged homes.
- Providing reasonable accommodations in the forms of elevators, platform lifts, chair lifts and dumbwaiters to over 40 homeowners who are either elderly or disabled, giving them the opportunity to remain in their elevated homes.
- Providing $36.7 million in grants to 11 municipalities impacted by Superstorm Sandy investigating in projects that will repair, rebuild and mitigate the critical infrastructure systems and harden them against future storm damages.
- With an ultimate goal of making Connecticut more resilient, the department has provided funding to state, regional developmental agencies and local governments to identify local needs, available assets, and develop resiliency and mitigation projects through an intensive planning process for implementation.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Implemented new permitting provisions to allow for quicker response for storm preparations and response within the tidal, coastal, and navigable waters of the state.
- Instrumental in passage of Public Act 13-179, a bill requiring municipalities to consider sea level rise when preparing plans of C&D, evacuation plans and hazard mitigation plans.
- Helped facilitate purchase of “The Preserve” along our shoreline to be preserved in open space in perpetuity. The Preserve acts as a sponge for storm water, greatly benefitting coastal resiliency in the face of climate change.
- Created the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) through a unique partnership between DEEP and the UConn to help increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut’s coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change on the natural, built and human environment. CIRCA is providing practical, hands-on information, technical support and grants to problems and challenges arising as a result of a changing climate.
- Increased resiliency spending of $300 million for increased resiliency efforts by CL&P (for examples, utilizing taller and stronger poles; increased redundancy in electric system).
- Authorized an additional expanded resiliency plan for CL&P to include an additional $140 million in other identified vulnerable areas of the electric system, including increased electric system structural and electric system improvements.
- Authorized programmatic expansion of vegetation management practices by CL&P and UI statewide, resulting in dramatic improvements to the reduction of the threat to the electric system from trees.
- Approved a $50 million resiliency plan for UI, including improvements to ability to withstand substation flooding.
Department of Transportation
- Completed extensive tree trimming and removal along all major highways to reduce the possibility of trees falling onto the roadway and thereby delaying a return to normal traffic.
- Major erosion and bridge scour conditions were addressed and reinforced.
- Major drainage systems statewide were inspected within each district and projects initiated as needed to mitigate substandard systems.
- Equipment acquired post Sandy included: 10 tri-axel and 8 tandem dump trucks as well as four loaders.
- Undertook major “infrastructure hardening,” including the New haven Rail Yard, the Norwalk railroad Walk Bridge, and seawall reinforcement in numerous towns.
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
- In 2015, for the first time ever, the state’s emergency management program received full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). EMAP is a set of 64 standards by which programs that apply for accreditation are evaluated. We met all 64 standards.
- Implementation of the Governor’s Emergency Preparedness and Planning Initiative (EPPI), which now culminates every year with a statewide emergency preparedness drill.
- Implemented and exercised the “Make Safe” protocol with the state’s utilities and municipalities to help restore power more quickly.
- Launched the free CT Prepares mobile app in 2016. This app provides essential resources for residents to take before, during and after a storm.
Department of Labor
- Awarded a federal Disaster National Emergency Grant of $610,207 to assist with storm clean-up efforts through October 2013.
- Worked with two of the state’s Workforce Investment Boards – Eastern CT Workforce Investment Board and The Workplace, Inc. – to provide temporary employment and re-employment services to 44 unemployed residents.
- Participants received initial training including First Aid/CPR Certification; tool safety including chainsaw and chipper operation; and, OSHA-10 Certification for health and safety awareness and to help workers reduce the risk of job-site hazards. This also made them more marketable to future employers.
- Participated on committees formed under the Governor's "Connecticut Recovers" initiative including the Connecticut Long Term Recovery Committee. The partnerships provide a framework for statewide emergency response to any future disasters.
Department of Economic and Community Development
- In 2013, DECD’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) received just over $8 million in federal disaster recovery funds for historic preservation.
- SHPO has used the funds to identify and preserve historic resources in the four counties that received federal disaster declarations – Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New London – and to provide technical assistance to towns in those counties.
- Preservation activities have included repairs to historic properties, resiliency planning, historic resource surveys, digitization of data and digital mapping, and educating property owners on measures to protect historic buildings facing the threat of climate change.