The superstorm that slammed into the New Jersey coast Oct. 29 came with an unwanted price tag for Berkeley Township.
The Township Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a $6 million emergency appropriation to cover a variety of costs associated with Hurricane Sandy.
"The costs associated with Superstorm Sandy are increasing by the day," Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. said.
That includes damages to South Seaside Park beaches, bulkheads, roadways, and overtime for police, public works, the construction and engineering departments, he said.
"We will aggressively pursue reimbursement from FEMA," Amato said. "We feel $6 million is a good number in order to cover our costs."
Berkeley has been spending $200,000 every two weeks in overtime costs since the storm hit on Oct. 29, he said.
"We want to make sure we have enough cash on hand to pay our employees, who have been putting in a lot of hours," Amato said.
The township has set Dec. 31 as the cut-off date for picking up storm debris, since public works employees have already made several passes through hard-hit areas, he said.
"It's getting to a point now where the debris being picked up is from contractors," Amato said.
Residents should make sure contractors are not charging them for debris removal if they leave it at the curb, he said.
"Keep an eye on contractors," the mayor said. "December 31 will be the last day we are picking up debris. We will continue to pick up debris in South Seaside Park and Pelican Island, after repopulation, and then we should be complete."
So far, public works has picked up 4,100 tons of debris. Employees are using the public works yard as a transfer station. Workers separate metals and recyclables from the debris stream, so some of the tipping costs at the Ocean County Landfill in Manchester Township have been reduced, he said.
Home by Christmas?
Amato said he is in daily contact with the mayors of Seaside Heights, Seaside Park and Lavallette to coordinate plans to get residents home as soon as possible.
Township and county roads in South Seaside Park and Pelican Island have been examined by the engineering department and "passed muster," Amato said.
"Power is just about restored to those areas," he said. "New Jersey Natural Gas is shutting down access to the barrier island on the 13th and 14th. They will repressurize the lines in Seaside Park and South Seaside Park. The water and sewer authorities are fine. The goal is to get everybody back by Christmas."