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Analysis, discussion and opinions by members of Newsday's editorial board.

McKinstry: Federal money to clean up Sandy debris is smart spending

Jeff Hudson, of the Ulster County Department of

Jeff Hudson, of the Ulster County Department of Public Works, and his crew cleaned up debris washed on to River Road in Ulster Park on Oct. 30, after Hurricane Sandy. The Hudson River rose to a record 9.54 feet near Poughkeepsie. (Credit: Meghan Murphy)

Consider it money well spent.

Up to 5,000 out-of-work New Yorkers will be hired to help clean up the mess left by superstorm Sandy thanks to a $27-million National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The jobs will pay about $15 an hour and the money will be used to hire people age 18 and older who lost their jobs as a result of Sandy or were unemployed before the storm. These new “temp jobs” will focus on cleaning and repairing communities in 13 hard-hit counties in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.


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And if you’ve seen the devastation firsthand -- or simply seen the images -- you know there’s a great need and still plenty work to do in neighborhoods all over our region.

“As New York State begins to rebuild and clean up after the incredible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, the enormous amount of work to be done gives us a chance to provide young and unemployed New Yorkers with job opportunities, cleaning up their communities,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement Sunday, announcing the effort.

The program will be administered by the state Department of Labor and is separate from another one managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to hire roughly 700 New Yorkers to replace out-of-state coordinators who are scheduled to leave. They include full-time, temporary workers ranging from community relations specialists to administrative assistants.

These sort of New Deal-style work programs are no panacea when you consider unemployment claims related to the storm spiked by 50,000 in New York State, but this sort of government spending is hard to argue with -– as long as it’s managed correctly.

Temporary work is rarely glamorous, and, for sure, cleaning up stricken streets won’t be easy, but you’ve got to figure there’s real value here -– for workers and residents.

For information or to apply for a job, contact the Department of Labor at 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365) or log on to www.labor.ny.gov/sandyjobs. The counties involved are the Bronx, Brooklyn (Kings), Nassau, Manhattan (New York), Orange, Putnam, Queens, Staten Island (Richmond), Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties.