The township has added an additional and final debris collection effort the weekend of Dec. 29.
Dec. 1 was originally the last day for bulk clean up services but after Public Works assessed lingering damage and debris, there were yet another 150 homes with belongings hauled to the curb, Township Administrator Veronica Laureigh said.
“I understand the town gave adequate notice of trash pickup because of the debris that has accumulated because of the storm,” said Greg Edgecomb of Lanoka Harbor. “The inaction of some of the homeowners is sad but many people traumatized by the storm did not take action in the time that would be needed in order to have their trash picked up while we were still having the normal debris pickups.”
Edgecomb has spearheaded the Lacey United Methodist Church’s cleanup teams, made up of trained volunteers. He asked the committee to consider the additional collection.
The township’s concern to provide further cleanup services arose because residents have not separated construction debris from household items. As a result, there is a possibility the township may not get reimbursed by FEMA.
Utilizing Meadowbrook Industries, it will cost approximately $50,000 for the additional pickup, Laureigh said.
When Public Works assessed the town on Thursday, contractors were seen putting construction debris at the curb. Residents using contractors as well as those gutting their home themselves need to purchase a dumpster, Laureigh said.
“It’s a real touchy subject for us to be going out and picking up construction debris and looking for reimbursement for it,” she said.
Since Sandy, more than 2,000 tons of debris has been collected and construction material was not differentiated, she said.
“The issue of separation is very much a moot point only because the separation has to be done by the homeowner,” Public Works Director Casey Parker said. “There is a risk that we may not be eligible for that… We’ll hope for the best with the project specialist.”
Parker admitted that asking residents to separate construction debris from household items or brush would be difficult at this point since it was not accomplished initially.
It creates an enforcement issue, he said, in which the township would have to hand out notices, then summonses, which ultimately creates more court appearances.
“That becomes very unpopular,” he said. “The town doesn’t really have the reputation of being the enforcers. We would like to think that everyone could comply. And this is a tough situation.”
Many neighboring communities had about two pickups while Lacey “aggressively” initiated approximately 10 individual pickups, he said.
“I realize it’s an expense, but it’s probably a good idea to get the stuff picked up,” he said.
But following the additional pickup on the last weekend of December, the township will not initiate any more, he said. The risk of not getting reimbursed by FEMA will increase if the services carried into the new year.
“I know there’s a good chance it will cost us,” Committeewoman Helen DelaCruz said “But our residents have been devastated… The help that we give financially is $50,000 but the emotional healing that we’ll give will be priceless.”
Edgecomb will continue to work with his teams the next two weeks to assist residents in cleaning out their homes. For help, call the Lacey United Methodist Church at 609-693-5222.
Residents should aim to have all debris placed at the curb by Friday, Dec. 28 as Meadowbrook will begin early that Saturday.