It’s been one month since Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island, and in Huntington, the impact of the storm continues to linger.
Sandy’s economic impact on Huntington is still being calculated, though the Town estimates that the cost of cleanup will come in at between $15 and $20 million – roughly four times that of Irene. $1.4 million in damage alone was calculated for five waterfront sites including Crab Meadow Beach and Gold Star Battalion Beach.
Most costs are expected to be reimbursed by FEMA and, because of this, will have no affect on property taxes for the upcoming year.
On Thursday, some hope arrived with $49.1 million of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for Suffolk County to reimburse recovery costs expected to exceed $1.8 billion.
There was also positive news from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said businesses and homeowners can receive expedited payments from insurance claims, thanks to a new regulation that aims to cut by more than half the amount of time insurers have to send adjusters to homes and businesses to inspect damage.
All the while, Huntington Town officials monitor the ongoing impact from Sandy and continue to examine their response to the storm with an eye toward the future.
In a 'Hurricane Recovery Night Sandy' at Town Hall Tuesday, the town will process building permits while private industry and financial groups offer advice on finding and evaluating contractors and obtaining financing. The meeting will also feature a primer on dealing with insurance companies.
Local schools also continue to feel the affects of Hurricane Sandy, such as Whitman High School in Huntington, which had pieces of its roof ripped off by high winds.
All school district were forced to close their doors for a week while roads were made passable. Most districts will make up days lost to Sandy by holding class during the February winter break and are continuing to petition the state for a waiver of the 180 instructional day minimum. Another storm that closes school doors could result in additional vacation days being taken away.
Power outages from downed trees were a major trouble during Sandy. Both Town Supervisor Frank Petrone and Northport Mayor George Doll agreed that the extensive damage caused by downed trees and slow power restoration time are signs that Long Island's power lines should be buried in the near future.
Sandy also highlighted the need to keep track of at-risk persons such as the elderly during an emergency. Northport Village Trustee Tom Kehoe said the village is starting a campaign to gather contact information for people with special considerations in the event of another emergency so that police may do check ups.
Everything is up for a second look, but there's no denying the cost to rebuild and retool will be tremendous.
"No one knows what this will cost," said Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association, Inc., Long Island's key business organization. "We don't know how this will net out."
With reporting by Joe Dowd, Adina Genn and Pam Robinson.