HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said officials from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been touring the eastern portion of the state to inspect crumbling foundations.
The state has been trying to make a case to the federal government that the problem deserves federal disaster relief funding.
Malloy said federal officials discussed their preliminary findings Thursday and have agreed to help the state create a standard for testing concrete aggregate for both suppliers and manufacturers.
As soon as he receives those standards Malloy said he will take immediate action to implement them. He hopes the legislature will codify them when they reconvene in 2018. He has also asked federal officials for their help in developing a low-cost standard test for homeowners.
“It’s all over the place,” Malloy said, regarding the standards and the cost for testing.
Connecticut has been struggling to get a handle on the scope of the problem. Homeowners have been hesitant to come forward because the problem could mean their home is worthless and many don’t have the $150,000 to $200,000 it would take to replace the foundation. Repairing it is not an option.
Malloy said he’s asking the Army Corps to supply the state with key information.
“We need more information on the concrete used,” Malloy said. “But we also have to have a common language [to] talk about this issue.”
Anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of homes have been impacted. Insurance carriers have refused to cover the damages for homeowners who experience the problems, which are thought by some to be tied to high levels of a mineral called pyrrhotite within the concrete.
As of December 2016, 567 homeowners had reported their crumbling foundation issue to the Department of Consumer Protection. The Office of Fiscal Analysis says that over the next 15 years affected municipalities could lose about $40 million to $80 million in tax revenue because of the problem. OFA estimates that 20,000 homes could be impacted, while other groups say it’s closer to 30,000 homes.
Last November, then FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said the presence of pyrrhotite does not constitute a natural disaster.
“While the mineral and chemical reactions may be naturally occurring, the mixing of concrete and the placing of these foundations are man-made events and do not constitute a natural catastrophe as the term is used in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act,” Fugate wrote.
Malloy said he hopes to have a conversation with the new FEMA administrator when he has time, but the bottom line is “they need to recognize this as the natural disaster this is.”
He said after visiting the state and seeing the problem firsthand, federal officials have a better understanding and scope of the issue than they did just a few days ago.