Connecticut will receive a $54.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve shoreline infrastructure and increase resiliency for future weather events.
An estimated $35.7 million will go to Bridgeport to help elevate University Avenue, create a berm to help prevent the area from flooding, construct a community center in the south end, and conduct an analysis of alternative energy sources to limit the disruption of electricity during weather events.
New Haven and Fairfield County also will share about $18.5 million for flood planning.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said they understand some of the most vulnerable portions of the state are at the lower end of Long Island Sound, beginning in New Haven and ending in Greenwich.
He said they saw how vulnerable these portions of the state were during storm Sandy in 2012 and Irene in 2011.
“Climate change is real,” Malloy said. “And there’s precious little debate that humans contribute to that, but there’s no doubt climate change is real.”
He said the best defense to problems the state may face in the future is to be well-prepared.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said storms like Irene and Sandy “are the new normal.”
“If we were to act effectively today against climate change, we would continue to see these monster storms,” Blumenthal said. “We need to be prepared.”
There were 67 applicants for $1 billion in funding and only 13 grants were awarded, a HUD official said.
“The battle for this funding was pretty tough,” Blumenthal said.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said the funding will help prevent future losses due to these weather events.
“Sandy led to severe risks to safety, health, the economy,” DeLauro said. “We are now with this grant going to help reduce those risks.”
As a state Connecticut is only second to Florida in insured property in a coastal area, DeLauro said, adding that the grant is “an essential component of Connecticut’s commitment to building resilient communities.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said storms and weather events don’t discriminate based on socioeconomics and there are some very “vulnerable populations” living along Connecticut’s coast.
But the I-95 corridor also is one of the most important commercial arteries and “it is not sufficiently protected,” Himes said.
News of the funding came hours before a storm is expected to barrel up the coast.
Forecasts show the storm could dump at least 6 inches of snow on New Haven and towns bordering the Long Island Sound. New Haven’s northern suburbs are expected to see 3 to 5 inches and northern Connecticut might only see an inch or two.
The National Weather Service in New York also warns that some flooding is possible in neighborhoods along the coastline Saturday night when winds strengthen and tides rise.
Malloy said they have 634 state plow trucks and 200 private contractors ready to address the storm.
He said the storm is a “serious” one and people should use common sense and make sure there’s nothing in their yard that can blow around. He said the state is monitoring the storm and will know more late Friday night.
“There is one model that has us getting hit a lot harder than the other three models,” Malloy said. “So we’re keeping an eye on that model.”
Malloy said he’s asked the Transportation Department to be ready to respond to other states if Connecticut escapes the storm.
Malloy said he’s spoken with United Illuminating and Eversource and they also are preparing for the storm. He said they’re also preparing to respond to other states if Connecticut escapes the storm.