Over one month after Hurricane Sandy roared across Long Island, “we’re still in the process of removing some of the trees,” Mineola Superintendent of Public Works Tom Rini reported during the December 5 meeting of the village board at the village hall.
The Village of Mineola has a total of 450 trees either removed or scheduled to be, 70 of which were uprooted and on top of houses. As of the December 5 meeting, Rini estimated that there were 25 damaged trees left to be removed. A total of 300 trees were toppled due to Hurricane Sandy, with the remaining 150 due to the ensuing nor’easter. There are also about 380 stumps remaining of the 450.
“It’s going to take us a few months, during the winter months to get through that,” Rini said.
Village crews can grind between 10-12 stumps per day using heavy equipment.
“Quite frankly we were in very good shape that morning of the nor’easter, we had gotten everything removed off of houses off the streets, even had our sweepers and leaf machines out to get the roads cleaned, then that night we got nine inches of snow,” Rini said, noting that village crews worked 26 of 28 straight days.
During the cleanup, two crane crews were present in the village every day working to remove trees from houses, debris removal crews to supplement village crews as well as six tractor-trailers.
The 70 locations with uprooted trees also had damage to the curb, sidewalks and roadways, the repairs of which are covered by the village’s concrete repairs contract with Roadwork Ahead.
“We’ve already got them started on replacing the broken curbs, sidewalks,” Rini said. “Obviously that has to be limited to what is related to storm damage only; I can’t replace everyone’s sidewalk or curb or driveway, but if we’re able to justify it, we did.”
The village has hauled about half of the concrete debris away. Rini said that he hopes within the next two weeks that the flatwork will be completed before repairing the dirt areas and right-of-ways.
“Hopefully before we get involved with any weather or any cold weather we can get all of this in,” he said.
“We certainly ask that all the residents that are affected by this cement construction – or reconstruction – to please give us your patience,” mayor Scott Strauss said. “The crews are working extremely hard; we need to look at the bigger picture, again, Mineola was hit but so was everybody in Nassau County and Suffolk County so there’s not that many construction crews out there.”
Rini estimated that he would plant over 200 trees this year to help make up for the trees that were destroyed. The village plans to replace all 450 trees, including one planted to a hometown hero in Memorial Park.
“That would be replaced before Memorial Day,” Rini said. “We’ll make sure that’s taken care of.”
This year’s tree plantings would begin within 2 weeks using chanticleer pear trees and Queen Elizabeth hedge-maple, both wire-friendly trees that are on LIPA-approved for planting around overhead wires.
The village received seven bids for the loading and hauling of storm debris relating to Hurricane Sandy, rewarding the contract to New York Dirt Contracting Corp. with a low bid of $148.59 per hour for tractor-trailer services and $158.59 per hour for loading equipment and personnel. The village’s debris pile was mostly removed in the two weeks following the hurricane but another 150 trees were added after the ensuing nor’easter.
“To be compliant with FEMA, there’s only a certain amount of time that you can run emergency contracts,” Rini said, noting the nature of the contracts at the time were emergency. “They tend to be a little higher per hour cost, things like that. So after a certain amount of time, FEMA and the federal government want you to be able to rebid that. That was the purpose of doing this because all the while we were still continuing to remove trees and tree stumps.”
The village will be able to submit these and the emergency contracts as well as the village’s costs for its own personnel for reimbursement from FEMA.
The village will be meeting with FEMA on December 10. It will also hold a meeting with its insurance adjuster over damage to village property caused by trees coming down on fences in parks and at the pool, as well as a portion of the roof at the village garage where the wind lifted up part of the northeast corner where the solar panels were installed and rain flooded the roof membrane.
“More than half of the system is still running,” Rini said.
Anything not covered by insurance or that the village must pay as part of the deductible can be counted toward the amount the village is asking for reimbursement from FEMA.
The playground at Wilson Park was also damaged by a tree falling on top of the equipment. Rini said that a representative for the manufacturer who is also a certified playground inspector would inspect the equipment which has been taped off to prevent access.
“To my eye the base superstructure of it did shift,” he said, noting that the insurance representative said the playground equipment would be covered under the village’s policy.