Town of Smithtown officials estimate the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy will cost approximately $4 million to cleanup and that cleanup may take until Christmas.
Glenn Jorgensen, Smithtown's Highway Superintendent, said his 142-member crew has been working overtime since the storm hit since Oct. 28 to clean up an estimated 40,000 tons of debris consisting largely of fallen trees and branches.
"I estimate there are still between 3,000 and 4,000 stumps I'm going to have to remove yet or get rid of," Jorgensen said.
The Town of Smithtown is responsible for removing those tree stumps between the sidewalk and the curb. However, Jorgensen expects more work than usual disposing of hundred of stumps left roadside by residential homeowners.
"Residents will take the ones in their backyard and they will put it out into the streets to get rid of it," he said. "If they have a big stump, I usually won't pick it up but there's no way of proving where that stump came from once it's out in the road."
The town has hired 9 to 10 private contractors to help the storm cleanup efforts, working alongside town highway employees to collect brush and preparing to start collecting leaves by next week. On Nov. 20, Smithtown town board approved a retro-active resolution to send trucks to Town of Brookhaven's municipal landfill for $75 a load to use their wood chipper and burner to dispose of fallen trees.
The nor`easter that came through after Sandy created additional challenges for the highway department, who had to call all trucks into the yard to outfit trucks with plows and spreaders to respond to the nearly 3-5 inches of snow dumped on the town.
"That was a monumental task for my workers. I am very proud of them and what we accomplished that day," Jorgensen said.
But their work is far from over, as Jorgensen said he hopes to have Hurricane Sandy cleanup and the usual fall leaf collection finished before Christmas.
"I haven't even started on my leaf collection as I've been overwhelmed by brush and debris," he said.
The highway department crews have completed their first round of cleanup, working through the town, and have started their second sweep. Jorgensen urged residents finish cleaning up their yards as quickly as possible.
"They need to pull it out fast so its not sitting on the road during a snowstorm. The sooner they get it out, the sooner I can clean it up," he said.
The town has also worked out an arraignment with its garbage collectors for the next 60 days to pick up as many leaf bags as possible along their route to aid in getting debris off streets.
The overall cost of Hurricane Sandy's cleanup is estimated to be around $4 million dollars, with the majority of that budget going to paying overtime for the town employees working long hours and private contractors aiding in the ongoing efforts.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he expects FEMA to reimburse the town for 75 - 80 percent of the overall cleanup costs, which could reduce the town's share to roughly $800,000. However, any FEMA funding would not be received for approximately one year.