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November 21, 2012

Covering Sandy's Costs



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By Kitty Merrill

It could cost over $2 million to repair damage wrought to town roads and buildings by Super Storm Sandy. Last Thursday night, the East Hampton Town Board voted to authorize borrowing money to pay for the restoration in two separate measures.

Members agreed to borrow up to $750,000 to pay for improvements and repair of buildings, and $1.5 million to cover the cost of road repairs. As of press time, a complete list of damages and the estimated costs of repair was not available.

Budget Officer Len Bernard said repairs to Gerard Drive alone are expected to top $1 million, while even smaller projects, like the staircase at Culloden Point comes with a $52,000 price tag.

The list is still in flux, but on Friday Bernard was able to detail other costs including $100,000 in damage to the aquaculture facility in Montauk, $10,000 in damage to a hangar at the airport, $75,000 in bulkhead damage at the town dock at Three Mile Harbor, and $20,000 for road sign replacement.

In addition to Gerard Drive, repairing road ends damaged by over-wash will cost an estimated $100,000, with West Lake Drive carrying its own cost of an additional $75,000. The Star Island causeway will cost an estimated $45,000 to fix and another $36,000 will be necessary to clean up the road end at Marine Boulevard in Amagansett.

According to the bond resolutions, any grant funds or reimbursement from the feds or state will be applied to the cost of projects or redemption of the bonds. Additionally, Bernard said the town could get reimbursement from FEMA for staffing costs, so far tallied at close to $900,000 for debris and tree removal alone. (Costs for police overtime were not available at press time.)

Bernard reported receiving federal reimbursements related to Hurricane Irene as recently as a month or two ago. He said 18 months to two years is a "reasonable" time frame to expect Sandy money.

Also last Thursday night, Sandy continued to be a hot topic, as Kathy Cunningham urged the board to develop "a better sense of what your plans are" with regard to storm response. "We are one extended power outage from total chaos," she opined.

Cunningham spoke specifically to the use of the Montauk Playhouse as a shelter, wondering what happened. Supervisor Bill Wilkinson explained that while town officials expected to make use of the space, they heard at the last minute that the Red Cross would only be able to staff one shelter in East Hampton Town.

"It wasn't the case that we weren't ready to go in Montauk; we weren't ready to go without the Red Cross," he said. The supervisor reported that he asked the fire department's ladies auxiliary if they could staff the shelter in Montauk, but didn't get a green light.

Overall, he said, "You learn from every one of these [storms]. We did a lot of things better than last time."

Continuing with the storm cost theme, the board voted on a measure that will ease expenses for homeowners. The town recycling center will accept storm related brush, for free, this weekend and next.

Finally on the Sandy front, Wilkinson announced state, national and county departments of labor have offered the town grants to hire workers to help with storm-related clean up. The pay is $14.89 per hour for a 35-hour week, with an estimated length of the job at 12 weeks. County officials are conducting the interviews for the positions, which will be temporary under the town highway and parks departments. Call 631-853-6600 to learn more.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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