Huntington residents slam Sandy cleanup pace

Richard Silverman stands beside a pile of tree Richard Silverman stands beside a pile of tree debris from superstorm Sandy in front of his home on Horton Drive in Huntington Station. (Dec. 4, 2012) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Superstorm Sandy has come and gone and communities' damage cleanup is generally well under way or completed.

Not on his block, said Huntington Station resident Richard Silverman. And he wonders why the tree debris remains on Horton Drive -- a busy shortcut between Melville Road and New York Avenue near Walt Whitman Shops -- despite creating dangerous conditions.

"I want to know why streets in Dix Hills, Melville -- with higher taxes, wealthier people -- those streets have been done and yet over here, us middle-class people, the streets haven't been done," Silverman said.

But Highway Superintendent William Naughton said Tuesday that it's unfair for residents to think top priority was given to wealthier areas -- and not true. His crews have been working as quickly as possible, he said.

"We first clear the roads for traffic, the main roads, then secondary roads, subdivision roads," Naughton said. "Then we had to do the baddest areas, those hardest hit, where you had all the poles and trees down."

He said those areas were East Northport and Commack.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

But in East Northport, cleanup has been spotty, said resident Danielle Drum.

Drum, of Tamarack Street, said while nearby streets were cleared quickly, 8-foot-tall piles of fallen trees, logs and rootballs lined her street, causing frustration and driving hazards.

"At night I had to drive around with the high beams on because I was scared of coming around a corner and running into a pile of logs and branches," Drum said.

Her street was cleared Monday.

"But I do wonder why it took so long for my street and others," Drum said, "and other streets in the same area were cleared much sooner."

Naughton estimates that by the end of the weekend all town streets will have had at least one crew come through.

There were some snags along the way when disposal sites filled up because of the enormous amount of debris being delivered to them, Naughton said.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone agreed to let him place tree debris at a town park in Huntington Station and at another in Dix Hills.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Since the storm, Naughton said, 228,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed from town streets by crews consisting of employees from the town highway, general services, sanitation and public safety departments. The crews have been out daily with about 80 pieces of equipment such as payloaders.

"These guys are working 10 hours a day, seven days a week," Naughton said. "This storm is huge in comparison to any other in Huntington, so I think we are doing good, in consideration."

Naughton thanked residents for their patience and suggested they call the highway department hotline with any issues. The number is 631-499-0444.

The highway department has set up a website where residents can track the streets that have already been cleared; go to tohhighway.com.

You also may be interested in: