U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano assured Connecticut residents Thursday that the federal government has their backs in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
"We understand the urgency of the situation," Napolitano said at a press briefing outside Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, after touring local wreckage with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Connecticut legislators.
"We'll continue to bring in the resources we can," she said.
Speaking in a city that had 44 percent of its residents without power as of 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Napolitano said the federal government, working with the Red Cross, has provided meals and water to Connecticut residents, and plans to open more disaster recovery centers next week.
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"Our aim is to be very proactive," she said of her department, which includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Coast Guard.
Napolitano said damage assessments will begin Friday for towns seeking a declaration of emergency.
She urged residents affected by Sandy to register with FEMA for financial aid. Learn more about these programs by visiting FEMA’s website or by calling 800.621.3362. In addition, Napolitano said FEMA will be setting up facilities on the ground to assist individuals and small business owners sign up for the help.
The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security said she's pleased to report that the number of people in area shelters have gone down and "it's our goal to make [those] shelters temporary."
Before Sandy started to impact the region, the Obama Administration signed a declaration of emergency for the state of Connecticut. Malloy said at the time the declaration would make it easier for Connecticut to seek federal assistance for cleanup efforts post-Sandy.
On Thursday, the governor said he's been on the phone with President Obama four times in the past few days and Connecticut "is getting all the assistance we ask for."
After viewing the damage in Connecticut first-hand, Napolitano said, "It's one thing to hear about the damage, it’s another thing to see it.”