Town Councilors hire debris management company
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Mon., Nov. 7, 2011
The South Windsor Town Council held an emergency meeting on Friday, Nov. 4, to discuss the impact of the recent winter storm and to decide the town’s response. The councilors met with Town Manager Mathew Galligan, Superintendent of Pollution Control Fred Shaw, Superintendent of Operations Karl Reichle, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kate Carter, and Deputy Police Chief Richard Riggs.
While the tropical storm in August resulted in 5,500 cubic yards of debris, the estimate for the debris from the early winter storm is between 100,000 and 200,000 cubic yards of debris. Town crews worked non-stop to clear the roadways of the downed trees. The town was able to open some 150 roads, but 30 roads remained closed due to the downed power lines. Many residents and businesses were left without power for a full week.
“I don’t want to leave this room today without a plan for this,” said Councilor Gary Bazzano.
To deal with the debris, the Town Councilors ultimately voted unanimously to contract with Ashbritt, Inc. for the removal of the downed trees and branches. In addition, Science Applications International Corporation, doing business as Beck Disaster Recovery, will be hired to oversee Ashbritt. These companies have already been vetted by the state through its bidding process.
The cost for the debris management, which includes removal and chipping, is $40 per cubic yard, or a total potential cost of $6 million. It is anticipated that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide a 75 percent match, leaving South Windsor a bill of $1.5 million.
According to Galligan, the governor’s office is verifying that the town will not have to go to a vote for a bond referendum, if the storm is deemed a “dire emergency.” The current bond rate is less than one percent. The town could also opt to transfer funds from various capital projects, but Galligan said that would result in only $900,000 available cash.
The contractor will remove the debris from residences and businesses utilizing a self-loading arm that can reach into the private property. Several runs will be made to allow time for property owners to bring the debris to the roadside. Property owners are asked to line the branches up with the cut end toward the road. No debris is to be piled in the road, but rather left along the property line. If there is a sidewalk, the debris should be piled between the sidewalk and the building. Under no circumstances should debris be piled in the roadways or on the sidewalks. The contractor has said it can continue with the debris management in up to three inches of snow.
“It’s quickly becoming less of a power issue than a safety issue,” said Carter. She was particularly concerned about school children walking to school or a bus stop, when the sidewalks are blocked by tree limbs. Carter said the bus company would be reviewing the road, sidewalk and bus stop conditions before the schools are opened.
Earlier in the day, Fire Chief Philip Crombie issued a press release voicing concerns that Connecticut Light & Power had failed to act responsibly in responding to the extreme dangers in South Windsor. As a result, CL&P sent the necessary crews to South Windsor, and the National Guard was called in to assist.
According to Galligan, more than 100 people spent the nights at the South Windsor High School emergency shelter; 515 people were fed three times a day; and thousands visited the shelter to use services such as showers and for charging electrical equipment. “The grant for the $2 million fuel cell paid off,” said Galligan about the school being able to serve the town in this capacity.
Galligan also reported that some 11,000 residents are now on the Everbridge System for automatic message updates. The town also utilized Facebook and Twitter, and posted a video of Police Chief Matthew Reed discussing the debris management. “We’re trying to use every source we can,” said Galligan, in getting information to the community.
The American Red Cross has supplied carbon monoxide detectors, which will be available at the Fire Department headquarters while supplies last.