November 14, 2016

FEMA: Crumbling foundations not a 'natural catastrophe'

The Federal Emergency Management Agency won't rule Connecticut's crumbling home foundations a natural disaster, but other federal agencies might offer help, the agency has told Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

In October, Malloy pitched the idea that the mineral pyrrhotite's chemical reactions, linked to deteriorating home foundations across the state, might constitute a natural disaster and be eligible for federal assistance.

In a Nov. 8 letter to the governor, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate rejected the premise, calling the mixing of concrete and establishment of home foundations "man made."

Fugate did offer to put Malloy in touch with a liaison, FEMA's Region 1 Administrator Paul F. Ford, who would be able to connect Connecticut officials to other federal "partners" who might help, the letter states.

Malloy could not immediately be reached for comment on which federal agencies might have a role to play in the continuing saga, which is affecting some 43,130 homes across the state.

On Nov. 4, an independent report by UConn researchers concluded that earlier state evaluations finding the mineral contributes to cracking and crumbling home foundations are correct. The report left other questions unanswered, such as what amount of the mineral leads to such damage. The Connecticut Attorney General's office and Department of Consumer Protection commissioned that study.

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