News & Events

Backus helps those impacted by Hurricane Sandy

November 9, 2012

The impact of Hurricane Sandy continues to be felt, even as another Nor-Easter hit the region on Wednesday.

Because of the hurricane, many southeastern Connecticut residents were unable to sign up for the state’s energy assistance program, so Thames Valley Council for Community Action (TVCCA) used the Backus Mobile Health Resource Center to bring the program to them twice this week.

Marylouise Underwood, Chief Operations Officer of Thames Valley Council Community Action, thanked Backus for lending its medical center on wheels for use as an office to meet with clients and fill out applications for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and offer them information on other programs as well.

Ironically, the day the Backus van was used another storm hit the region, bringing with it a mixture of snow, sleet, rain and wind.

Many residents along the shoreline, in Stonington and other Eastern Connecticut towns, were affected by Storm Sandy with damage to their homes and lengthy power outages. The town offices were closed during the storm and after, and appointments had to be rescheduled to meet with clients about the heating assistance program.

The CEAP assures that low income and vulnerable households have the financial resources to stay warm throughout the winter. Priority is given to vulnerable households, made up of young children, the elderly and individuals with disabilities. Eligibility is determined by household income.

“Originally we didn’t know when the power would be back on in Stonington, which is where the idea of the mobile van came up,” Ms. Underwood said. “We contacted Backus about their mobile outreach vehicle to serve as an office. It is a great partnership, Backus has really helped us help the town and serve our clients better.”

The program provides financial assistance toward the primary source of heat, which can include natural gas, heating oil, electricity, propane, kerosene and wood or wood pellets.

Ms. Underwood said they expect there may be more people needing assistance because of issues with the storms as well. For instance, residents may have thought they wouldn’t need assistance, but if they now have home repairs or have to replace groceries because of the power outages, they may need assistance with heating costs.

“The working relationship and partnership with Backus and community partners in New London County shows the commitment to help and providing vital services. Providing services does not always exist within the four walls of an organization. It is about meeting a need wherever it may be,” Ms. Underwood said. Alice Facente, Backus Community Health Education Nurse, has been amazing in helping TVCCA get ready. She has worked side by side with staff.” 

“Some people might wonder how providing energy assistance aligns with the mission of a hospital,” said Shawn Mawhiney, Director of Communications and Community Relations. “But meeting basic needs – food, shelter, warmth during the winter – is the first step towards keeping people healthy. This has everything to do with the region’s health, and we are happy to play a role in making this happen.”

Customers may also receive emergency assistance if home energy service is shut off or about to be shut off. TVCCA staff may enroll a customer in a matching payment program, complete a low budget worksheet, or assist them in enrolling in other available supplemental fuel programs. Funding is also available for furnace/boiler cleanings and re-starts.

TVCCA expects to see approximately 10,000 Southeastern Connecticut residents throughout the 2012-2013 heating season; over 3,500 applications have been taken to date. Applications are taken by 19 town social service offices and senior centers throughout New London County and also at TVCCA offices in New London and Norwich, and the neighborhood outreach center at the Norwich Public Utilities office. The first date for fuel deliveries per the state plan is Nov. 15 and deliveries end on March 15, 2013. A complete list of intake locations and the documents necessary for approval are available on the TVCCA website,

The Mobile Health Resource Center returned to the Stonington Human Services parking lot again on Friday, Nov. 9.