Nearly three months after Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage across Brookhaven, Town officials said cleanup costs from the historic storm currently stand at $24 million.
“These numbers are preliminary, but they are pretty good [estimates]," said Supervisor Ed Romaine. "Not included in these numbers is beach re-nourishment and dune restoration on Fire Island."
The largest cost so far has been removal of downed trees, tree limbs and other debris by the Highway Department, which include overtime, equipment and processing fees totaling $9 million.
Romaine said Brookhaven opened its landfill to serve as a regional drop off center for several surrounding towns following Sandy, accepting debris for a contracted fee.
“It will never offset these costs, but we will be up by about $1 million,” Romaine said.
Brookhaven officials estimate that as much as $9 million will be spent to reconstruct roads and fix stormwater drainage systems damaged by Sandy.
Town facilities were heavily damaged by the storm as an estimated $1.25 million will be spent to repair marinas, piers, bulkheads and beaches, which does not include areas damaged on Fire Island.
Romaine and other Town officials were expected to meet with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday to discuss Fire Island issues and beach re-nourishment, a project that will be carried out by the Army Corp of Engineers.
The supervisor said initial estimates show that restoration of Fire Island's boardwalks will be as much as $5 million with an additional $135,000 needed for the docks.
However, Fire Island repairs will be put on hold until Town officials and FEMA have property authorization to finish hauling away Sandy debris, a cleanup effort that is on-going, Romaine said.
“I sent out 2,200 registered letters to people who own land on Fire Island asking them to sign a Right of Entry form to allow FEMA to go onto their property and remove debris,” he said.
He is hoping to get 75 percent of Fire Island property owners to respond so a full-scale cleanup can begin.
Further complicating Fire Island’s cleanup efforts are a lack of roadways, severely limiting FEMA’s ability to bring heavy equipment such as bull dozers and fork lifts into the area.
Romaine is hopeful that FEMA will reimburse Brookhaven for 75 percent of its total Sandy cleanup costs, with New York kicking in another 12.5 percent.