Storm costs, possible assistance to be determined

Two refrigeration units in the basement of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Naugatuck were wedged together and suspended in the air during flooding that occurred Aug. 1. The basement of the church, which is used for mass during the summer time and the cafeteria of the St. Francis-St. Hedwig School during the school year, took in over 5 feet of water.-LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The receding flood waters from Wednesday’s heavy rain left a wake of damage in its place — roads were torn up, retaining walls washed away, and mud-covered basements drenched.

Exactly what the monetary toll of the damage is and what, if any assistance, is available will take some time to sort out.

When the storm hit early Wednesday afternoon the first priority was to make sure the public was safe, Mayor Robert Mezzo said. No injuries were reported during the storm.

Once the rain stopped the clean up and damage assessment began.

By Friday morning, all of the roads in the borough were open again. Mezzo said repaving and storm-related repairs to roads will be performed over the next week or so.

State officials from the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection inspected bridges and dams and deemed them to be OK, Mezzo said.

Although the cost of the damage is unknown currently — the bulk of the public costs will stem from overtime for public works and safety personnel along with materials to repair roads — Mezzo said the borough’s costs will be significantly less than the expenses occurred following the weather events from last year, such as Tropical Storm Irene.

For reference, Mezzo said the borough incurred between $600,000 and $700,000 in costs for snow removal during January 2011’s major snowfall, which included shoveling snow off roofs of borough buildings.

Much of the damage from Wednesday’s flood occurred on private property.

This retaining wall at 195 Andrew Ave. washed away during Wednesday’s storm. -RA ARCHIVE

Many areas of the borough flooded. Two apartment buildings — Prospect Manor at 83 Prospect St. and one at 55 Trowbridge Place — were evacuated Wednesday due to flooding in the basement.

Residents have moved back into most of the apartments. Vincent Lagasse, who Prospect Manor, said it’s going to be a minimum of a month before tenants are able to move back into the basement apartments.

The rushing waters also washed away several retaining walls around town, including at 30 Aetna St. and on Carroll Court. The washout on Carroll Court caused water to cascade down the hill into the parking lot of the Mobil gas station on South Main Street and the intersection.

Pat Tomanik, 59, of 195 Andrew Ave., watched her retaining wall wash away as water flowed down Andrew Mountain into her yard on the corner of Melbourne Street. Since she moved in 19 years ago, she said, she has never been flooded.

“It was just too much to handle,” Tomanik said. “It was like being in a river.”

Tomanik said she might refinance her house or get a loan to pay for repairs, which she estimated would cost at least $10,000.

As the drains overflowed downtown Wednesday, the water backed up into Donahue Hall at St. Francis of Assisi Church on Church Street.

Rev. John Kuzhikottayil said water flowed into the basement from the bottom up. Even after the rain stopped the water continued to rise because it was looking for the lowest place, he said, which the church basement is.

David Dear, president of PuroClean in Newtown, was at the church Friday cleaning up.

Dear said the company will have to remove all of the walls in the hall and probably the floor as well. He expected to have the basement cleaned by the end of next week. However, it will be a few months before the basement is fully restored, he added.

Over 5 feet of water flooded the basement of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Naugatuck, leaving the basement muddy and destroyed. –LUKE MARSHALL

Kuzhikottayil estimated that it’ll cost more than $250,000 to the clean up. He hopes that people will be able to donate to the church and help the church out in its crisis. Someone has already donated a piano to replace the one that was broken.

Kuzhikottayil plans on discussing the incident with his parish on Sunday. He said that, since this just happened, many of them still are unaware of what happened. The ones who do know that he has talked to have been very sympathetic and many have said they will help in whatever ways they can.

Kuzhikottayil said insurance is going to cover a lot of the damage, but not everything. Everything that was in the basement was destroyed, nothing was salvageable, he said.

Not everyone will be so lucky when it comes to insurance coverage.

Mezzo said most conventional insurance won’t coverage the damage done Wednesday —  including the borough’s insurance — because it’s considered an “act of God.”

Residents who have sustained property damage can the Connecticut Insurance Department for assistance with insurance questions at (860) 297-3900 or toll free at (800) 203-3447, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Staff members from Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro’s office are also available to answer insurance and/or other storm related damage questions at (203) 562-3718.

Whether any government assistance is available is in question as well.

It’s unlikely that the cost of the damage will meet the necessary county or state thresholds for assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mezzo said the issue is the storm, and the damage caused by flooding, was very local to Naugatuck. He said the borough will exhaust all possible avenues to find potential assistance for private property owners.

The Republican American contributed to this article.