Officials, community come together for Shelton fire victims

To the Editor:

On Jan. 6, a fire destroyed a historic block in downtown Shelton. Being a Shelton native, I have witnessed various businesses moving in and out of that block over the years.

What occurred in our downtown business district gained attention of Shelton’s two U.S. House members, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes; U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy; and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Rep. DeLauro, along with a representative from Rep. Himes’ office, held a meeting at the Echo Hose firehouse with various organizations such as Valley United Way, TEAM Inc. as well as those who lost their business in order to provide information on what resources could be available for them to get back on their feet quickly.

The Katharine Matthies Foundation, Valley Chamber Foundation and Valley United Way provided revenue to boost the ability to help the displaced residents. BHCare helped secure those affected by the fire and the Red Cross assisted the victims with short-term housing.

TEAM also received assistance from the Howe Avenue Relief Fund that was established by the Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Company.

I attended the news conference at Echo Hose where Gov. Malloy announced that his request for the U.S. Small Business Administration to issue a federal disaster declaration had been approved and the SBA would open a temporary disaster loan office at Shelton City Hall so those affected by the fire could apply for low-interest SBA disaster loans.

I joined Sen. Blumenthal as he and a representative of Sen. Murphy office met with the victims of the Jan. 6 fire after Blumenthal toured the fire debris-filled corner near the firehouse.

Blumenthal listened to complaints and witnessed a wide range of emotions — how Comcast was requesting payment for services and for equipment lost in the fire when the building collapsed, and the red tape they were facing with insurance companies.

Privacy waivers were distributed to those in attendance so Blumenthal’s office would be able to contact insurers, creditors and Comcast on their behalf.

But the victims were smiles as they recounted the help they received from the community, while also feeling the loss for their fellow tenants and merchants.

This has been a rewarding experience of the federal and state governments helping our community in a time of need, but also of neighbors helping neighbors.

John “Jack” Finn

Alderman, First Ward