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Cost Of Tropical Storm Irene To Town: $1.45 Million

Looking at a $1.02 million reimbursement from FEMA

The costs incurred by the town of Clinton for Tropical Storm Irene are estimated at $1.45 million of which approximately $1.02 million will be reimbursed by the Federal government.

The selectmen approved the costs and sent the request to the Board of Finance (with the exception of Selectman Carol Walter who abstained from the vote). The Board of Finance will meet in early January.  If they approve the expenditure, it will go to a Town Meeting.

As the Director of Public Works Peter Neff explained, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires that the town meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for reimbursement. The town engaged the services of the Maguire Group to monitor the recovery efforts from Irene and to assure that the town met all the FEMA requirements in order to receive funds to help offset the recovery effort.

"The most significant costs were the removal, reduction and disposal of green vegetative matter (trees, brush, leaves, etc.)," said Neff.

Removed were 25,626 cubic yards of green waste; 81 trees, 2,259 hanging branches from trees; and 27 tree stumps.

The cost to clean up the town in the 24 to 48 hours following the August 28 storm including overtime, emergency tree service and emergency debris removal was about $56,000.

To make repairs to town facilities and infrastructure, the costs were about $79,000. This included repairs to the town docks, ramps, bulkheads, harbors, walkways, gazebo, bridges and roads.

For the removal of debris (organic such as trees and limbs not building materials) the costs were about $460,000. The town hired local contractors such as Finkledey-BMJ Services, American Waste and Recycling, Grove Gardens, Stevens Excavating, Hammonasset Construction, D.D. Heser, Schumack Construction, New England Road Incorporated, D.D. Construction and Old Colony Construction to perform grinding services and to remove debris at town facilities and on town roads. These costs included management and administrative services.

In addition, the town hired three crews from CAHABA, specialized tree surgeons from Alabama, to clear the town roads (77 miles) of hanging limbs, leaning trees, stumps and dangerous trees. They also performed the same services at all town facilities. The cost for this service, which was per FEMA bid specifications, was $612,000. No local bids came in for this work.

FEMA requires that all crews in the field and at the dump sites are monitored.

The town hired the Maguire Group to perform all administrative services including developing bid specifications, supervising the bidding procedure, monitoring three clearing crews for four weeks (six to seven days a week), inspecting and approving all dump sites, documenting the process, and compiling submittals for state roads and submitting the project to FEMA. The costs for these services was $195,000.

Miscellaneous costs of about $8,000 included items such as guard rail repairs, informational signs, clearing catch basins, food for community meals, and removing bulky waste from the Shore Road and town marina areas.

In addition, there is an open $40,000 contingency item for projects not yet completed.

In total, the costs are approximately $1.45 million.  FEMA reimburses up to 75 percent of 90 percent of total costs ($1.3 million) for an approximate reimbursement to the town of $1.02 million.

As Neff explained, "the town faced a monumental cleanup following the devastation of Hurricane Irene. It was clear that the town forces were not designed to handle the needed work and would require additional resources."

"There was a huge amount of paperwork and monitoring which was beyond the capability of the town and the Department of Public Works," said Neff. "That's why we hired a consultant and their fees are reimbursable."

Selectman Carol Walter said the amount was "colossal" and said she was told on September 28 that the costs were going to be $500,000.

"Westbrook's entire cost was $300,000 and Madison's was $250,000," said Walter.

Neff explained that in order to be reimbursed, the town had to adhere to FEMA regulations.

"If you don't want to bring in FEMA, you will end up paying more," said Neff.

Selectman John Giannotti said he thought the town did a great job.

"I don't want to compare us to Westbrook or Madison because they didn't do anything," said Giannotti.

Neff said it was a choice: get it all done right away with a 75 percent reimbursement, or pay for it and do it on your own over the next two years.

Patch will bring you details of the Board of Finance meeting when that happens.

R Alvin January 10, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I think the town crew,police and Willie did a great job. I don't understand why Mrs Walter abstained from voting. I would think it is either yes or no.
Steve Bristol January 10, 2012 at 05:06 PM
R Alvin It's a means of allowing a 'guaranteed' motion to pass (BOS has a Democrat majority) without being lambasted later for joining them in the vote. That occurred frequently during the past election. It occurs on various boards more often than you think. It's also used--think POTUS voting 'present'--to avoid taking a position for future political runs. Since Mrs. Walter strongly voiced her objections based upon relative costs, it is my guess it's the former rather than the latter.
Steve Bristol January 10, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Here's a link to video and comments from that BOS meeting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n_wSInlVDA
R Alvin January 10, 2012 at 09:42 PM
If you don't vote yay or nay why would you want to sit on a board . We could elect a German Shepard to sit there and not vote.
Steve Bristol January 11, 2012 at 02:26 AM
A vote of 'abstain' is actually a vote. This is one case where it really doesn't matter whether Mrs. Walter voted anything. The 4 yay votes already passed the motion and we would be on the hook for the $$ no matter what because choices were made, people were hired and work hours were used. Another recent example of the scenario played out at a Police Commission meeting. There was only one person nominated for Secretary of the Commission, Kim Neri-Simoncini. All others Commission members voted yay and Peggy Adler abstained.
R Alvin January 11, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I understand everything u say but that's not why we elect people. This is one to the many things that r wrong with our Gov't. we should be informed as to how all our elected leaders feel about any issue.
Steve Bristol January 11, 2012 at 10:21 PM
R Alvin, All I can say is try to attend meetings when it's possible. Many overlap nights/times, though. whatever people may think of Kirk Carr's politics, he is doing the town quite a favor posting BOS meeting video on youtube so you form your own opinion. Obviously, attending is much better for getting the 'feel.' Good luck.
Steve Bristol January 11, 2012 at 10:33 PM
R---I just went back and read the BOF minutes...I apologize...it's 75% OF 90% of approved costs. I had earlier heard (at a meeting) 75 TO 90% of costs and didn't catch the difference when I read it. Again..I apologize.
Charlene January 11, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I appreciate the detailed information provided in this article. So often we hear only total amounts and form opinions (of the issues and representative in town government) based on whether the number 'feels right'. It's so much better to have the breakdown. I was particularly pleased to see the long list of local businesses called in to help with debris removal. I think more articles like this would improve the tone of arguments on Patch, maybe even turning them into discussions.

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