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Obama Declares Major Disaster In Five Conn. Counties; Many Residents Still In The Dark

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Two women look at a home that had a tree fall on it during Tropical Storm Irene on August 30, 2011 in Southport, Connecticut. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Two women look at a home that had a tree fall on it during Tropical Storm Irene on August 30, 2011 in Southport, Connecticut. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in Connecticut in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Fran Schneidau reports

Obama on Friday ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts beginning Aug. 27, when the heavy rain and wind began.

The federal funding will be available to state and local governments and some nonprofits for emergency work and repair in five Connecticut counties. They include Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven and New London.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says more counties could receive assistance after additional assessments are made.

Irene hit Connecticut with 60 mph winds and drenching rain, destroyed dozens of homes along the shoreline and damaged crops. About 830,000 homes and businesses lost power at the storm’s peak.

Communities still struggling with power outages like Ridgefield, could be one of the last in the state to get electricity back to all of its residents.

Despite planning after 9/11 to boost emergency response, hard hit Ridgefield was not aided in the storm by the state.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says Tropical Storm Irene has left many individual towns to fend for themselves. These big storms will keep on coming he believes, and says the federal government should be rethinking its priorities.

“There will be politicians who are demanding investigations, demanding audits, why don’t they demand that we pull some of the money out of the Mid-East and begin spending it in our own country,” said Marconi.

Marconi believes utility companies need to be thinking long-term on a workable master plan to prevent these massive storm outages.

Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating reported a combined 170,000 outages Friday afternoon.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Joe Courtney, whose district includes the hard-hit eastern portion of the state, have criticized CL&P for what they consider poor preparation and response to the storm.

CL&P President and CEO Jeffrey Butler said Friday that crews will continue working all weekend, including on the Labor Day holiday.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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