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East Coast Picks Up Pieces After Superstorm Sandy

Tue November 20, 2012 - Northeast Edition
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In the week preceding Halloween, Superstorm Sandy devastated portions of the Caribbean, the Mid-Atlantic, northeastern United States and Canada, causing at least 200 fatalities and more than an estimated $20 billion in damages.

Below are efforts being undertaken by some of the Mid-Atlantic states heavily damaged.

Christie Administration Issues Emergency Order Easing Infrastructure Repair Permit Requirements

As a result of the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin of N.J. has signed an administrative order allowing approvals of DEP permit requirements for in-kind repairs or replacement of critical public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, bulkheads and culverts.

“Our entire state sustained unimaginable destruction as a result of Hurricane Sandy,” Martin said. “Restoring basic public infrastructure will be a critical first step toward the recovery of our cities and towns. For emergency repairs, we cannot let bureaucracy get in the way. Red tape should not and will not hold up this vital work.

“We want our communities’ towns to go and do needed repairs and replacements without worrying about the permit process. Once the emergency work is done, they can follow up later with needed paperwork,” he added.

Cities and towns will have six months to provide needed documentation of storm damage for retroactive DEP approval for public infrastructures projects. That documentation is key to getting federal reimbursement for the emergency work.

“It will be very important for governments to follow this process because the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires proof that state environmental approvals were obtained before releasing disaster aid,” Martin said.

Martin also reminded municipalities and private property owners that they do not need any DEP approval to move sand from roadways, streets, private properties and structures back onto beaches. Movement of sand once on beaches is permissible under each municipality’s beach maintenance permit. The DEP, however, advises that these activities should only take place if it is safe to do so.

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NYC Mayor Announces Sandy

Home Repair Program

New York City is helping homeowners take a key first step in repairing damage from Superstorm Sandy, finding people to do the work.

Officials are lining up plumbers, electricians and other contractors who will concentrate on fixing storm damage and will be dispatched to the homes of residents who sign up for the city’s new NYC Rapid Repairs program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced.

The initiative aims to help homeowners who would otherwise have to track down contractors themselves at a time when they’re in especially high demand. The program also aims to ease a problem for government: finding temporary living quarters for potentially tens of thousands of storm victims in an area where housing is scarce and expensive.

“The best temporary housing is permanent housing, and that means we want to get as many people back into their homes as we can, and it starts today,” Bloomberg said, calling the program “innovative and unprecedented.”

The goal is to get as many people as possible back into their homes by the end of the year, he added.

To take advantage of the program, residents need to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get assigned a FEMA number; that can be done by phone or at a disaster assistance center. The bulk of repairs should be eligible for FEMA disaster aid payments, according to city officials.

Then homeowners can sign up for NYC Rapid Repairs by going to, by calling 311 or by going to a city recovery center.

The homes need to be on streets that have electricity, even if the homes themselves do not. Houses that have been inspected and given a green placard, signifying they are structurally sound, will be addressed first because they should be quickest to repair, officials said.

The city will coordinate the repair requests by area, assigning workers to fix multiple houses in the same area for efficiency’s sake, so they don’t lose time traveling around, officials said.

OC Mayor: Pier Damaged By Storm to Be Rebuilt

Ocean City, Md.’s, iconic fishing pier, destroyed by the winds and surf of Hurricane Sandy, will be rebuilt in time for the summer 2013 season.

A large section of the pier that was battered during the Oct. 29—30 storm ended up disappearing into the ocean after the clouds parted. Some pilings were left standing, which have since been removed so as not to present a navigational hazard to boats, according to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan.

“Those pilings take a tremendous beating. It’s amazing how well they are built, what they can withstand. But this time, they just snapped under the pressure of it,” Meehan said.

Meehan also said the most-asked question he heard during the storm was, “Is the pier OK?

“People recognize it has tremendous importance to the town and the visitors who come to Ocean City,” he said.

Still, this icon of the resort doesn’t belong to the town, not really. For decades, Ocean City has offered a franchise agreement for pier control, for a price. The current franchise holder, Charles R. “Buddy” Jenkins, already has committed to rebuilding the pier, according to Meehan.

Jenkins did not return multiple calls seeking comment.

The agreement gives the franchisee authority to maintain and operate the amusement and fishing pier. By its terms, the pier has to be rebuilt to 489 ft. (149 m) long and 20 ft. (6.1 m) wide.

The franchisee is allowed to extend the pier 140 ft. (13 m) if the shorelines moves seaward, part of the contract that existed long before the town embarked upon beach replenishment efforts, but it remains their responsibility to replace what was damaged.

It won’t be easy to replace the pier, said Denny Sharp of Hi-Tide Marine Construction.

“You’d have to have sufficient equipment, and I’m not real sure anybody on this side of the Shore has that,” he said. “You’d have to have one big crane that could reach that far.”

Not only that but “you’re going to have the surf fighting you every day. We’re all set up to work in the back bays, and really, nobody without any brains would go out there,” he said.

There is one other way, Sharp said. A method he called top-down construction would see a contractor pile-drive new timbers under the old pier, working their way out to the water one section at a time, without the need for boats.

Sharp also said replacement pilings would have to be about 60 ft. (18.3 m) long, and it could be a challenge to find barges or machines to handle timber that large.

Several Associated Press writers contributed to this story.

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