Presiden Barack Obama has signed the declaration for Connecticut, which will provide a 75 percent funding reimbursement.
Town manager Garry Brumback said in a phone message Friday morning that the town is looking to finalize a schedule by the end of the day and begin debris cleanup soon. Further details could be released later today.
The town has still not received any official decision from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on whether they will receive funding, but that hasn’t stopped Garry Brumback from moving forward in preparing to begin a roadside debris pick-up to help finish storm recovery.
Brumback said Thursday that the estimated costs for the project are estimate in the range of $1 million, with about 50,000 cubic yards of debris left behind following the rare October Nor’Easter.
The town is prepared to move forward with cleanup, but Brumback said the first step is to be sure that the emergency declaration for the state, which would provide a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA for all storm-related costs.
“In good conscience, we can’t escalate the efforts until the declaration is signed unless there is a public groundswell that says ‘we don’t care if it costs $1 million’,” Brumback said. “We have laid the groundwork and we are ready to go.”
Earlier this month, the Southington Town Council approved an emergency motion allowing Brumback to begin negotiations in finding a monitoring company and clean-up company to conduct the debris cleanup. The cleanup would include several weeks of roadside pick-up to help clear damaged tress limbs and other materials left behind following the storm.
True North, a response management group with the Neel-Schaeffer organization of Texas, has already been hired to conduct the efforts. Brumback said the town would sign a contract for the physical work with one of two finalists who were interviewed on Thursday in the near future.
Town officials said although the costs may seem high, it could have been much worse.
“I went to West Hartford and it seemed almost as if they had no plan at all, as far as I was concerned,” said Board of Finance member Edward Pocock Jr. “We are in a good position here and we have been able to save money with the due diligence of our staff.”
West Hartford officials announced this week that they had decided to move forward with a cleanup project of their own – one which is estimated to cost about $7 million.
Brumback said when the town was first analyzing after the storm, it appeared initial costs for the debris cleanup alone could have reached as much as $6 million in Southington, with up to 100,000 cubic yards of debris that needed removal.
Further assessment revealed less damage than initially though, however, with the estimated debris being reduced to 50,000 cubic yards. Residents have also taken a proactive role in efforts, already bringing about 15,000 cubic yards through countless vehicle loads to the Bulky Waste Transfer Station, further reducing the debris cleanup needs.
By going out to bid, officials said the town is also saving considerable money and has reduced costs from $21 per cubic yard – the cost if the town had gone through the state – to just $8 per cubic yard.
The goal, with a plan now in place, is to begin work immediately once the declaration is signed. Legislators said the declaration “is imminent and could be completed by very early next week.”
In the meantime, Brumback said the town would continue to keep the Bulky Waste Transfer Station on old Turnpike Road open for debris drop-off. The station will be open Monday through Wednesday next week from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but will be closed for the holiday weekend.