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FEMA deadlines approach, Darien Boat Club hopes to rebuild

Updated 6:12 pm, Friday, December 7, 2012
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While there's still no estimate for how badly Superstorm Sandy damaged Darien, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been hard at work throughout Connecticut.

In late November, it was estimated that more than $7.6 million in federal disaster assistance had been approved for Connecticut survivors of the storm, and more than 9,100 Connecticut residents in Fairfield, Middlesex, New Haven and New London counties had registered for federal disaster assistance.

Four FEMA-state Disaster Recovery centers are open in Milford, Bridgeport, Fairfield and Greenwich.

While FEMA is all about helping residents of areas who lost everything in the storm, some businesses that were severely damaged were not eligible for much federal help.

The Darien Boat Club, 135 Pear Tree Point Road, was damaged by Sandy, but because it's not a personal residence, it was only eligible for a small business loan through FEMA.

A small business loan, said commodore of the boat club, David Dever, "is not of interest to us at this point, while we sort out how much the damage is."

The front part of the building, the deck and the picnic deck were all ripped away in the storm.

"It left an overhang of the club room, and part of the deck," Dever said. All of the debris, three Dumpsters worth, has been removed from the building, and it has been secured with a tarp for the winter.

"We engaged a structural engineer to check the rest of the building and we're very delighted to find out the thing is solid," Dever said. More than 60 percent of the building is solid, which means the boat club can be rebuilt essentially as it was.

"We're really in amazingly good shape," he said.

Dever hopes the boat club will be up and running by opening day at the end of April or beginning of May, but it will depend on numerous factors.

"It depends on getting the drawings, getting the approvals and getting a contractor who's available, and hoping the world doesn't freeze over in spring," Dever said. He estimated that the drawings might be done by the end of December.

"It will be, as much as it can be, a carbon copy of what was there," Dever said. "Obviously, we won't do anything until the weather starts to break somewhat."

Those who have suffered storm damage or losses can register with FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov, with a smartphone at m.fema.gov or by phone at 800-462-7585. The deadline to apply is Dec. 31.

For those who may have been rejected by FEMA, the agency's determination letters tell applicants how to appeal the eligibility decision and what additional information is needed.

By law, FEMA cannot provide aid unless it has all the required documents needed to determine eligibility. The agency also cannot duplicate benefits from another source, such as an insurance settlement. Applicants are urged to read the determination letter carefully -- and to ask for help if there are questions, according to a release. FEMA may only need some additional information.

An application for aid might be turned down if an insurance settlement has not yet been received; an applicant has not provided proof of ownership or residence; proof the damaged property was the applicant's primary residence is missing; or essential documents are unsigned.

For information, call the helpline at 800-621-3362 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. If using TTY, call 800-462-7585. For appeal information, visit http://go.usa.gov/ggkF.

mdavis@bcnnew.com; 203-972-9534; twitter.com/megdariennews