Almost six weeks after Hurricane Sandy tore through the area, the Huntington Highway Department crews have removed more than 270,000 cubic yards of debris from town roadways.
Much of that waste is ending up at Dix Hills Park, where it is turned into mulch or lumber, said Michael Naughton, a supervisor with the department, on a tour of streets last week.
He said the department hopes to have made at least one pass on every street by the end of this coming week. Workers will then return to remove other debris, work on removing stumps and do other work. “We can’t pull stumps until everything is checked with the utility companies,” he said.
“Our major focus is to get the roads clear now,” he said, before winter snows arrive. “We’re at the mercy of the weather.”
He estimated that the department will remove 350,000 cubic yards before it is done, compared to the 70,000 removed after Hurricane Irene in 2011. This year’s removal is the equivalent of 9,700 dump trucks so far.
Both highway and other town officials have said that in some cases, debris has been dumped by contractors or others after roadways have been cleared. “We had stuff dumped yesterday (Monday,) on Round Swamp Road,” William Naughton, the highway superintendent, said.
Both Naughtons said department workers had learned lessons from Hurricane Irene. “This one is four, five times as bad as Irene,” the senior Naughton said. “It taught us everything. It was good for the employees.”
He also said he was grateful that the town had allowed the use of the park and for people’s patience.
Michael Naughton said all of the work has to be thoroughly documented by the town when it is reported to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Workers use cameras to record trucks when empty and then filled; the truck’s logo is also recorded, and photos and paperwork submitted as proof that the debris was removed.
He said the department had been working seven days a week since the storm hit Oct. 29, with just two days off.