Ida damaged at least 200 homes, 24 businesses in Darien, officials say. Now they can seek funding from FEMA.

DARIEN — Around 200 flood-affected residences and two dozen businesses in town could receive federal relief to offset damages from Hurricane Ida.

Property owners moved one step closer in seeking funds to cover flooding damage when President Joe Biden approved the state’s disaster declaration on Oct. 31. Now, residents who have suffered damage can take advantage of two programs under the Federal Emergency Management Agency: the Individual Assistance Program for Fairfield County, which provides funding for those who have uninsured or under-insured damage to their property, and a statewide Hazard Mitigation Grant program.

The town is reminding residents and businesses to start filling out a claim immediately, since there is a 60-day limit to filing an application from the date of the disaster declaration.

Marc McEwan, Darien’s Emergency Management Director, said the town officially reported 200 residences and two dozen businesses with Ida-related flood damage to the state. But he said he would not be surprised if that number is much higher, though officials won’t know the actual extent of damage for months.

Neighborhoods that are closest to the three watersheds in town — Five Mile River, Stony Brook and Noroton River — were hardest-hit, McEwan said.

The state, which has conducted its own damage assessments to verify property destruction in the months since Ida ravaged residents in early September, determined Darien had around 46 homes with “major” damage —the rest sustaining lower categories of damage as outlined by FEMA.

All damaged homes are eligible for relief. However, the disaster declaration is specifically for damage related to Ida and not the two major storms before it, which also affected Darienites, McEwan said.

“After two large floods in just under three months, many residents and businesses are fiscally strained after such damage from the storms,” McEwan said. “Some of our residents had already repaired their damage after the first storm only to be flooded in September with more severe flooding.”

He encouraged residents to still seek relief through the grant program since property owners who did not end up reporting their damage to the town or to the state back in September are still eligible for relief if they file a claim, McEwan said.

The funds can’t come too soon for Danny Porcelli, whose store — Vavalas Deli in Noroton Heights — sustained major flooding and was closed for six weeks while staff cleaned up and rebuilt. Porcelli said he plans on filing a claim through FEMA immediately.

“I’m very happy that it was approved,” Porcelli said. “I've got five kids and kept all my employees on during the six weeks we closed. ... That money would be a huge help to us.”

To apply for assistance, residents can visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov/, call 800-621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., or download the FEMA app.