Legislation: Give homeowners relief for tornadoes’ fallen trees, debris

New legislation is being proposed to allow federal disaster relief aid to homeowners for fallen trees and debris.

In the aftermath of the May 15 tornadoes and macrobusts in western Connecticut, many homeowners got a rude awakening that they would get no assistance from FEMA to clear debris.

To make matters worse, many homeowner’s insurance offered limited damage from fallen trees.

On Tuesday morning, U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro will announce new legislation “to end the harmful and unnecessary ban on federal disaster relief aid to homeowners for fallen trees and debris.”

The announcement will be made in Hamden, one of the hardest hit communities in the state.

Clearing fallen trees from a tornado, hurricane, or other major disaster can cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars, but current federal law bars Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance. The cost of debris removal cannot currently be included in damage assessments provided by FEMA to the president, making it harder for states to qualify for needed disaster declarations and federal relief.

“Following the May 15 severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, some Connecticut homeowners faced costs of up to $70,000 for debris and tree removal, not covered by homeowners insurance,” Blumenthal and DeLauro said in a release.

While Connecticut is receiving federal disaster aid to cover public expenses in Fairfield and New Haven counties, individual property owners have been left to fend for their own.

Blumenthal and DeLauro are joined in this effort by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty.