The monumental task of cleaning up after the freak October 29 snowstorm has been completed, according to Director of John Phillips.
"We’re done. As of today the October Nor’easter’s residential storm debris collection program has been completed," Phillips said in an email to Town management Thursday morning.
He called the program an "overwhelming success," and reported that just over 300,000 cubic yards of storm debris had been collected, which just about exactly matched initial estimates.
Phillips said that the Town was able to offer the debris clean-up program because of the opportunity for FEMA reimbursement. The extensive amount of damage resulted in a "" from the federal government. West Hartford hired the Florida company AshBritt to do the work.
"The cost of the clean-up is in the neighborhood of $10 million," Phillips said. The rate of $27-$30 per cubic yard included the collection, processing, and hauling of the debris to a disposal facility in East Windsor. Under the disaster declaration, FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of the Town's costs.
"We weren't charged a separate fee for disposal," Phillips said. The processed mulch will likely be recycled for market, but he said a lot of work still needs to be done to prepare it.
The market for mulch is saturated right now. "No one in New England is buying bark mulch right now," Phillips said.
The Department of Public Works is completing the paperwork and will apply to FEMA as soon as possible in hopes of a speedy reimbursement, Phillips said.
Now that the clean-up is complete, "vegetation and woody yard waste" generated by residents can no longer be left at the curb. "Limbs lost as a result of this week's storm can't be put on the curb anymore. It's not going to disappear," Phillips said. Residents are not permitted to dump debris in town parks and on other town properties.
Phillips said that the Town's recycling center will accept vegetation and woody waste from residents free of charge, with proof of residency. This does not apply to waste being disposed of by landscaping companies.
The result of the storm clean-up effort was "outstanding," Phillips said. "It took one month to the date to complete clean-up from every residence, border-to-border." The clean-up process began on Nov. 3, and other than some punch list items which have now been handled, the effort was completed by Dec. 3.
Phillips said that cleaning up the debris as quickly as possible was a priority for public safety reasons. "Kids had to walk in the street and some intersections were very dangerous," he said. Phillips also believed that from a psychological perspective, it was important for residents to return to a sense of normalcy.
"We achieved that with high grades, and before it snowed," Phillips said.
Phillips said in his email to Town management, "The Department of Public Works appreciates the public cooperation over the last five weeks. We hope for continuing cooperation by not placing wood debris at the curb."
Anyone with questions can call the Department of Public Works at 860-561-8100.