Himes visits Huntington businesses

Congressman Jim Himes (D-4) visited Huntington Center on Thursday to talk to some of the businesses that are still without power.

The entire area lost power during the storm and about half of the businesses got power back late Wednesday, while the other half was still in the dark.

Himes offered his support to businesses that may need federal assistance in the wake of the storm.

Huntington Paint and Wallpaper was still without power but employees were there working.

“It hurts business horribly,” employee Jerry Mariano said of losing power.

Beechwood Market was one business that had power restored Wednesday night.

“Our distributor is in New York City, their computers are down and they have no power,” Market Owner Kevin Scanlon said.

Beechwood Market lost power for five days during Irene. This time, they were better prepared. They donated all their perishable items, which were picked up by Shelton firefighters, to be given to Spooner House, to stock local fire stations and the Senior Center, which was used as a temporary shelter.

“It’s great it went to good use,” he said. “Last year all that stuff went in the dumpster.”

Thanks to a generator, the store was able to save its deli meats, so that was still available to customers this week, along with rotisserie chickens and some dairy and produce. They were running deals on Thursday, to attract customers back in.

They lost many customers, due to the extended power outage caused by Irene. It may be Monday before the store’s distributor can deliver, allowing the store to re-stock.

Earlier Thursday, Himes was in Bridgeport with Gov. Dannel Malloy and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, visiting with state and local officials to assess the damage in the area.

Thursday morning, elected officials spoke with President Barack Obama on a phone call while they were all inside of Housatonic Community College.

“This declaration will bring much-needed financial assistance to residents who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a press release. “But it is critical to note that you must register with FEMA to begin the process of accessing possible federal assistance. We will continue to work to get the rest of the counties in the state declared.”

FEMA was praised for the response following “Superstorm” Sandy that pounded the east coast. They’re taking “a proactive approach to response,” Napolitano told members of the press.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal encouraged residents to go online, or find a place where you can go online to apply for FEMA assistance — disasterassistance.gov.

“The federal government has learned a lot from these disasters,” said Blumenthal, adding that he thinks it shows with how it is responding to storm Sandy.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the southeast in 2005, FEMA was looked at as a bad four-letter word, said U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

“I want to give a shout-out to you [Secretary Napolitano] and the Department of Homeland Security,” Lieberman said. “Today, in Connecticut, FEMA is a four-letter word for help.”

Everyone stressed safety first.

“There are still people out there sightseeing,” said Himes, and that is putting them and emergency responders at risk. FEMA is setting up locations in the state to help out, but people who cannot get to the Internet may call 800-621-3362, he said. The line is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

In the coming days, state officials and FEMA will be conducting damage assessments to determine if additional counties may be eligible for assistance.