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Weary Public Works Employees Persevere Nearly One Month After Hurricane Sandy

Workers affected by sights they have seen

They rise in the early morning chill, to begin their workday at 6:30 a.m. They finish in the gloom of a late November evening, when it's too dark to see.

They have done this every day but one since Hurricane Sandy slammed into Good Luck Point, Glen Cove, Pelican Island and Bayville. They had Thanksgiving off.

But the employees of the Berkeley Township Public Works Department persevere in the face of a nearly Sisyphean task of carting off as much debris from the superstorm as possible.

Nick Leary and John "Pizza" Gallo grin when asked how many hours they've put in since Sandy hit.

"Twelve hours a day, seven days a week," Leary said. "My back is killing me. My kids don't know who I am."

The trucks rumble up to yet another pile of insulation, plywood, shards of hardwood floors, sodden carpets, sheetrock, furniture and broken treasures. They take it all.

And despite the massive overtime, they still ache for the people of Berkeley Township.

"They thank us," Deputy Public Works Director Mark Vanella said, as a crew made the rounds on Shorewood Drive and Cove Road Sunday morning. "My guys get choked up. It's rough. It hurts us to see it."

"I'd rather not make money off of people's heartaches," he added.

Good Luck Point in Bayville was hit the hardest, said Vanella, who is in his 30th year with the Public Works Department.

"Total devastation," he said. "Houses are missing, gone. It's the worst I've ever seen.'"

Amazingly, the only injury so far during the entire operation came when Richie Musselwhite stepped on a rusty nail that went through his work boot and punctured his foot, Vanella said.

He estimates that between 60 to 70 percent of storm debris has been cleaned up, almost four weeks to the day the storm made a direct hit on Ocean County.

Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. and every member of the Township Council showed up at the Public Works Department the morning after Thanksgiving with hot food and coffee from Manhattan Bagels, Vanella said.

"It was a nice spread," he said. "The guys really appreciated it. The whole council was there. It was nice."

Regular garbage pickup has already resumed and recycling pickup is now back on the regular schedule. But Vanella said he is behind on leaf pickups.

"I gotta catch up on my leaves," he said. "I'm behind on leaves."

After a good half hour at one stop Sunday morning, they were on to the next pile.

"We will be around again," he said. "We try to hit every area one time and then we go back."

And they won't stop until it's done.

foggyworld November 28, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Where are all these Good Luck Point clean up fairies with paychecks and benefits? Most of the work out here has been done by the homeowners and their friends and relatives. The town didn't even provide one box of Hefty bags. For the few whose garbage cans didn't fly away, they get the regular once a week service. The dumpsters out here have been leased by private citizens and most are open to let others use them. People have made nice, easy to pick up with heavy equipment We the People own, the residue that surely won't leave via brown cans.
foggyworld November 28, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Glad to hear the paid workers got coffee and bagels on Thanksgiving. I got a slab of salmon with no vegetables never mind dessert and I didn't see this coffee party taking place around here. And the Mayor wants higher taxes. Good Luck on that one and I have written you and asked for a penny by penny accounting of the money you say you are spending on Good Luck Point. Let We the People see it and tell you the truth. But don't look this way for more taxes. Point Pleasant already has a form for those who have been affected by Sandy to have their property taxes reduced. I guess the triple dipping Mayor here is just too busy to worry about anyone other than his civil "servants." Enough.
foggyworld November 28, 2012 at 03:19 AM
And the governor said we would be part of an open process so why are local politicians having a closed meeting tonight to discuss Good Luck Point? Believe me after all of this neglect this is now a very tight community and just will not let you steamroller any of us.
foggyworld November 28, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Maybe video is a route to exposing just what isn't happening as opposed to what is being reported.
foggyworld December 13, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Good Luck Point curb clean up was conducted by three guys from Kansas and a FEMA "supervisor" who sat in his warm car and did nothing but sign their paperwork at the end of the day. Something is amiss in the reporting going on. Rarely see a town employee - mainly the local once a week garbage CAN pick up guys come and there are fewer cans than there used to be so it's hard to imagine all this OT being attached to the Point.

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