New York's Sanitation Department (NYDS) has received $66.7 million from the New York State Public Assistance Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Washington, D.C., to pay for cleanup costs associated with the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC).
The reimbursement was designated by FEMA to alleviate costs incurred while responding to the disaster, including:
$15 million to assist in the purchase and use of heavy equipment, and for some of the costs associated with new purchases and debris removal at Ground Zero, the marine transfer station on the Hudson River, and the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, N.Y.;
$29.2 million to restore and maintain operations at Fresh Kills, including barging and unloading at transfer stations, sorting debris onsite, and protecting workers;
$15.4 million to the NYDS Bureau of Cleaning and Collection and Bureau of Waste Disposal for costs associated with labor and barges used to transport debris; and
$7.1 million to conduct environmental monitoring, collect and dispose of gas condensate, and control leachate at Fresh Kills.
“The tragic events of September 11 gave the unsung heroes of the Department of Sanitation an opportunity to prove, once again, why they are called ‘New York's Strongest,’” Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty said during an August 22 ceremony to finalize the grants.
“The sanitation department had to put a few marine transfer stations quickly back into service, which included dredging, and Fresh Kills had to be reopened, so quite a bit went on … The department did an incredible job of turning it around so quickly,” says Brad Gair, FEMA's federal recovery officer.
Even more impressive, Gair says, is that NYDS never skipped a beat on its regular collection operations while working at the disaster sites. “There was literally no break in service during this time, when they had 800 men and women working 12-hour shifts for 9 months straight,” he says.
To date, FEMA has granted approximately $1.2 billion to government entities that responded to the disaster; nearly $5 billion has been awarded to New York state for emergency response and recovery work, including infrastructure repair, reconstruction costs and relocation expenses.
FEMA typically provides a 75 percent reimbursement for disaster recovery, but President George W. Bush authorized New York state receive the full 100 percent reimbursement.