The township is working diligently to clear all of the tree limbs, branches, and brush that fell as a result of the October 29 snowstorm, Business Administrator Brian Campion said Thursday night after a meeting with Mayor-elect Bill Laforet, and representatives from the DPW and the road superintendent.
“Our number one priority right now is to continue to have the streets clear. We are moving forward with an extended workforce working extended hours,” he said. According to Campion, Laforet urged the township to “reallocate” resources to expediate the clean up process as much as possible. As a result, township water and sewer workers will be helping the DPW clear brush. Workers will also be working overtime during the week, and full days on Saturdays.
Residents are being asked to gather twigs, branches and other debris from the storm at the edge of their curbs, and to be mindful to not put the waste in the street. Whole trees that have fallen will not be picked up by the township at this time. Campion said residents can either hire a private contractor to get rid of them, or wait until later in the season.
“We will pick up the branches, but the streets are what we need to take care of first, so we are asking residents to be patient,” Campion said.
He blamed the “exceptional year” of storms for the remaining brush littering the township. “We have spoken to other nearby towns, and the damage we’ve had is really unprecedented. The volume is overwhelming.”
He said the brush also caused the township to delay leaf pickup, which will now begin next Monday.
According to the mayor-elect, his first meeting with these officials went very well. “This has never happened before, and I am glad that we are working to get the community cleaned up as quickly as possible,” Laforet said. “Even though it is a lot to do, I think the town should know that people are working very diligently to clean this up.” He also said he understands that residents are getting frustrated with the remaining brush, which is why he hopes this meeting will "re-energize" the clean-up.
According to Campion, the out-of-pocket spending the township has endured to take care of this extended clean-up effort, coupled with the clean up after Hurricane Irene, has been significant. “However, I am optimistic that we will be reimbursed for a good chuck of what we had to spend.” He said that the town expects money from FEMA to help cover costs from Irene cleanup, since Mahwah was declared as being in a “state of emergency.”
“The County Executive and Governor have already declared states of emergency for the Halloween snowstorm, and I am hearing that the federal government will as well, so we can hopefully expect some FEMA aid from that too,” Campion said.
Until federal reimbursement comes, he said he will work to reallocate some budget dollars that were previously slated for other projects to help cover DPW clean up costs, and perhaps use some emergency funding. “Our overtime budget is almost exhausted at this point, but we should be alright moving into the next few weeks,” he said.