Carting away the result of Sandy's wrath

LONG BEACH TWP., N.J. - November 19, 2012

Now, three weeks to the day since Sandy struck, the focus is on getting all of this garbage out of here.

"It's bewildering to me how much trash can pile up," said Andrew Valentine of Lambertville, NJ. "Just furniture, people's entire houses emptied. It's insane."

"It's depressing," said Rene Weiss of Brant Beach, NJ. "It's like a town-wide yard sale come down here. It's unbelievable."

Long Beach Township has signed a contract with a private hauler to pick up the mountains of debris piling up since Sandy roared through. Officials say there are 9,000 homes in the township and many have piles of debris that have to go.

"Each house has at least 30 yards of debris out in front of it," said Long Beach mayor Joseph Mancini, "so it's going to be immense."

As the debris is picked up, it's being dumped in a giant pile at the Acme parking lot in Beach Haven where it's crushed, separated and shipped off to the Ocean County landfill.

"This is construction debris from houses and demolition," said Jaime Burns of A-One Waste Solutions, "stuff that washed up on the streets, docks."

The township wants residents to sort at the curb if possible.

"We'd like it separated as much as possible," Public Works Director Andy Baran told us. "We know that's a difficult task right now, they're just throwing everything out. But if they could keep carpet off to one side, wood off to one side, electronics. . ."

It's too late for Veronica Astrom to do that. You can barely see or get to her little duplex on Winifred Avenue in Beach Haven Crest. It's practically buried in debris after 4 feet of water inside the house forced her to throw everything out.

She hates looking at the pile.

"I'm sure everybody who's going to stay here in the neighborhood doesn't want to see it either," she said. "I have more stuff to empty from the garage."

The hope is FEMA will pay 75% of the removal costs with the state, county and municipality the rest.

The total price tag for the cleanup is unknown at this point. But officials say it will take tens of millions of dollars and months to complete.

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