Removal of debris from Fire Island left behind by Hurricane Sandy will begin in late January as the federal government has earmarked $30 million for the effort.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that New York State along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local municipalities will join forces to begin the cleanup.
“Fire Island is enormously important to the economy and quality of life for Suffolk County and our State,” Cuomo said. “I am incredibly proud of the cooperation between the communities, their leaders and government agencies in tackling the logistical issues looking to hamper cleanup efforts in Fire Island.”
The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will oversee this project, and will continue to support cleanup efforts with New York State and the Fire Island communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy once Right of Entry applications have been submitted by homeowners.
Local municipalities will mail residents a Right of Entry application, which is required for the Corps to begin cleanup. A Right of Entry is a legal form that gives the Corps and its contractors permission to enter private property and remove debris. This agreement clarifies the homeowner’s rights and establishes the limits and responsibilities of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Detailed information on the cleanup and instructions regarding Right of Entry process will be provided to residents by each municipality and will made available online at each municipality’s public website.
“Support and cooperation from our federal and state partners is essential as we work to restore Long Island's critical natural levee, Fire Island,” said Tom Croci, Islip Town Supervisor. “Our Town has moved expeditiously to ensure our residents are aware of the assistance that FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have pledged to Islip and Fire Island property owners and we are poised to meet the reach the response threshold of 75% through the holidays.”
Ed Romaine, Brookhaven Town Supervisor, said that removing debris from Fire Island is a top priority, adding, “It is only through the support of the federal, state and local municipalities that a job of this magnitude can be accomplished in time for the summer season.”
Cleanup crews, however, face a number of challenges as they work to remove debris left behind by the October super storm, officials said. Unlike mainland communities where sidewalks and utility strips have been used by residents to place debris for pickup, the narrow passageways and boardwalks throughout Fire Island leave little room for debris placement.
Also, weight restrictions on bridges and walkways are expected to make reaching and hauling debris a challenge.