Removal of Hurricane Sandy debris on Fire Island, N.Y., began March 2 and is scheduled to be complete by the end of March, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
"It is crucial that this work get under way before environmental restrictions prohibit debris removal and halt the recovery for thousands of Fire Island homeowners,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “The work will not only speed up the recovery process for homeowners but will put local businesses to work."
The Corps awarded a $10.1 million task order for the project to Environmental Chemical Company of Burlingame, Calif., Feb. 27 under the advance contracting initiative (ACI). The ACI allows the Corps to pre-award contracts for major emergency response missions to put contractors to work. Under the ECC task order, at least 82 percent – about $8.3 million – of the contracted work must go to local businesses. Cleanup work was delayed by more than a month by an atypical series of contract protests.
|Debris left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake on Fire Island, N.Y., awaits removal Feb. 22, 2013. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the removal of hurricane debris on Fire Island as part of the federal government’s Sandy response and recovery efforts in New York. (U.S. Army photo by Chris Gray-Garcia/Released)|
The task order includes removing debris from right-of-way and eligible private property, transporting it off the island and disposing of it in a safe and environmentally-sound manner. It also requires the separation and disposal of construction and demolition debris, segregation of “white goods” such as refrigerators and other appliances, disposal of e-waste such as televisions and computers, disposal of vegetative debris and sifting sand that presents a public safety hazard.
“We’re going to get this done as quickly and safely as we possibly can,” says Lt. Col. John Knight, commander of the Corps’ New York Recovery Field Office. “Our goal remains to finish by the end of March.”
|Contract workers crews chip trees and shrubs felled by Hurricane Sandy on Fire Island, N.Y., as part of the Corps’ project to remove storm debris from the island March 4, 2013. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the removal of debris on Fire Island as part of the federal government’s Sandy response and recovery efforts in New York. The Corps is coordinating debris removal operations with local, state and federal agencies to minimize disruption of the island’s sensitive ecosystem. Chipped vegetation will remain on Fire Island. (U.S. Army photo by Chris Gray-Garcia/Released)|
Crews will work 12 hours a day during daylight hours, seven days a week. Debris will be transferred by barge and truck from the island for disposal or recycling. Sifted sand and chipped vegetative debris will remain on Fire Island. Contract work crews began hazardous waste inspections of the debris March 2. Chipping trees began March 4.
Fire Island is a remote barrier island with limited vehicle access. Travel is mostly limited to small boardwalks or sand pathways, and driving on the beach is required to access several Fire Island communities. Hauling debris on the beach will be restricted after March 15 due to the nesting season of the piping plover.
Nearly 1,600 Fire Island homes damaged by the storm are currently eligible for debris removal assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency tasked the Corps Nov. 24 to assist with removing debris on Fire Island as part of the federal Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts for New York. An estimated 62,000 cubic yards of debris is eligible for removal – enough to cover a football field up to three stories high.