In the second applicants' briefing in the state, held Monday night at the Bridgeport Emergency Operations Center, state and federal officials handed out applications for assistance and urged localities and agencies affected by the severe March storms to apply immediately for funds.

About 40 representatives from Fairfield, Trumbull, Stratford, Greenwich and other municipalities attended.

In the coming weeks, each applicant will be scheduled for a meeting with a Federal Emergency Management Agency specialist assigned to help determine what qualifies as an eligible project or reimbursable expense. The specialist will also ensure that municipalities provide the appropriate paperwork and answer any questions or concerns.

"We are going to do the best for you to give you what you need," said Bill Parker, a FEMA official.

Most of the municipal officials were concerned about requirements on reimbursement costs for debris-removal work performed by city and town employees. Bill Brierley, public assistance coordinator for FEMA, said overtime pay accrued by regular employees, the cost of hiring an outside company or individual to conduct disaster-related cleanup, and the cost of equipment and materials used for that purpose would be considered reimbursable expenses.

That seemed to irk several officials who had ordered employees to give priority to relief efforts, deferring normal work to overtime hours, which would not be reimbursed.

"It seems like the lesson here is, don't do the work, hire it out," said Bill Oestmann, administrative superintendent for the New Canaan Public Works Department.

But Judy Paul, public assistance coordinator for the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said towns had no way of knowing whether the federal government would declare a disaster and facilitate aid.

Fairfield Fire Chief Arthur Reid, who called FEMA and state officials helpful and "extremely professional," said the town will apply for aid to repair damage to the Fire Department's training center and another structures utilized by the Police Department. The town will also seek reimbursement for overtime pay and equipment used for clearing trees and other debris.

The first applicants' briefing took place Friday in Stonington.

Meanwhile, the state emergency management department is encouraging residents and business owners in Fairfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham counties to call 211 before 6 p.m. May 14 to report damage from the storms. The information will be used in the state's appeal of the president's denial for public assistance for homeowners and businesses.