NEW YORK – The partnership between New York State, New York City, other municipalities, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has made significant progress in removing the massive amounts of debris left by Hurricane Sandy. To date, along with private contractors, they have removed in excess of four million cubic yards of debris from New York City’s five boroughs and Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program has approved more than $17 million to reimburse Nassau County for 75 percent of the costs of overtime for 270 employees and the rental of heavy duty wood chippers to reduce the volume of the debris. Approved this week is a $2.2 million reimbursement to supplement the $15 million approved for the county in November. More Public Assistance funding is anticipated to offset county costs for debris removal and disposal.
Strong winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy brought down trees, tree limbs and power lines throughout the New York area. Collecting and clearing out piles of debris has been one of the most difficult and time-consuming challenges of the recovery. But despite this, the debris piles are disappearing.
After collection, debris is trucked to staging areas where it is inspected, separated into categories and disposed of in the safest manner possible. To reduce the amount of material going into landfills, the Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the New York City’s Sanitation Department, is looking at alternate ways of using the vegetative debris (wood, tree branches, leaves and other organic matter) that will be of benefit to the communities.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program reimburses state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations 75 percent of eligible debris removal costs. The remaining 25 percent is provided by non-federal funds. The state forwards the federal funds to the eligible local governments or organizations that incurred costs.
For debris removal to be eligible, the damage must be direct result of Hurricane Sandy, and the work must be necessary to:
- Eliminate an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety,
- Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public and private property when the measures are cost effective, or
- Ensure the economic recovery of the affected community to the benefit of the community-at-large.