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Village Continues Post-Storm Recovery

Tree removal, storm expenses top agenda

While life is slowly returning to normal on Long Island and in the village following superstorm Sandy, stories continue to surface on how deeply residents were affected by the hurricane as well as last week’s nor’easter storm.

At last Tuesday’s village board meeting, resident Andrew Faglio related a story of a 30-foot tree which fell across the street from him, on South Park Place, as it was knocked down during the nor’easter storm.

The tree, which Faglio said was mostly rotted, “Sounded like Godzilla fell down, it fell across the whole street.”

And, making the incident even worse, Faglio said that as the tree fell it snapped a 4,000 volt power line which fell near the house of elderly neighbors living across street from him and started a fire.

“It caused a fire that set bushes ablaze,” said Faglio. “I thought my 68-year-old neighbor was going to die in the blaze.” He added that firefighters couldn’t get in to the house as the power line, in the process of being snapped, fell onto a chain-link fence, thereby electrifying the fence and preventing firefighters from reaching the couple in the house.

“I feel that there are many trees in the village that should be inspected and trimmed,” Faglio said. “This tree could’ve killed anybody walking by, it was 30 feet high.” He said that in addition, the odd chain of events could have caused his neighbors to be hurt or worse.   

He said many of these trees need to be inspected. “We live on Long Island and these trees are basically sitting upon 24 inches of sand,” said Faglio, who has a background in engineering. “…so even healthy trees are susceptible to coming down under the right conditions.”

Tom Gannon, superintendent of the village’s department of public works, said the village has been doing more to inspect trees and address instances where trees are rotted and may need to be trimmed or taken down.

Dep. Mayor Robert Lofaro reported that 75 to 80 percent of the trees that fell were healthy. LoFaro said the village is now “being inundated with requests from residents to cut trees down because they’re afraid of what happened in this last storm.”     

Lofaro talked about what this could do to the character of the community if too many trees are cut down. “Right now, trees are a very sensitive issue,” Lofaro said, adding that he’s reluctant to cut down healthy trees.

Mayor Petruccio said the village would be meeting shortly with their legal dept. to address the issue of what trees can be cut down and removed in the village.  

Faglio added that there must be some type of regular inspection or tree consultants that can be done in the village to prevent large trees from coming down.

Speaking more generally about the process of post-storm cleanup in the village, Lofaro said cleanup is still underway including removal of tree stumps, replacement of street lamps, poles and signage. “There are lots of repairs ahead,” he said.  

He pointed out that yet another issue related to trees, are the many holes left in front of people’s houses where trees once stood.  “We need to take care of these as quickly as we can,” he said.

In other storm-related business, Lofaro said the village is in the process of putting together a prospectus for a serial bond offering of $1.3 million to help fund ongoing roadway repaving, other infrastructure projects in addition to storm-related damage expenses in the village. “We will probably look to do the bond offering around Dec. 15,” he noted.  

He added that the village has already started paying bills from Sandy and there are many more that will follow.  “It will put a strain on our cash-flow and it’s going to be important that we get our bond offering out on-time to help pay road contractors as well as some expenses from the storm,” Lofaro said.  

He also pointed out that the village has a reserve fund of about $500,000 but that “goes pretty quickly.” Lofaro reported the offering should be ready by sometime next week.

Trustee Montreuil added that while last year’s Hurricane Irene reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took about six months, he expects this year’s storm-related expense reimbursements to take much longer.

“It’s a combination of the severity of this storm as well as the overall significantly higher expenses,” Montreuil said.  

Village officials estimated that total storm-related expenses could top $300,000.