Three weeks after Hurricane Sandy forced the mandatory evacuation of residents and caused an estimated $200 million in damage across Long Beach, officials lifted the 7 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew, but passed a resolution affirming a state of emergency as the city continued its long recovery process.
At a special City Council meeting on Tuesday — the first meeting since the storm — City Manager Jack Schnirman said that while the curfew was rescinded, police were still maintaining a strong presence.
The city declared a state of emergency on Oct. 27, and Long Beach was declared a federal disaster area on Oct. 30. Schnirman explained that the affirmation of the emergency order signified that the city is continuing its emergency response and recovery efforts, and that the order is an important measure as Long Beach seeks the maximum reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Schnirman noted the progress made since the storm — from the continued pressure on the Long Island Power Authority to restore power to re-establishing water and sewer services — and thanked everyone from the city’s first responders to county, state and federal agencies that are assisting the city.
“We’ve maintained public safety and order above all else,” he said. “… We’ve already restored services from our critical infrastructure, and we’ve launched a relief and recovery effort that is simply tremendous.”
Schnirman added that the city was now focused on garbage and debris removal and clearing streets. “We’re virtually 50 percent through that effort now,” he said.
“We’re seeing a tremendous effort on debris collection and removal,” he said before the meeting. “We had the tremendous challenge of storm debris, which is a major challenge in any disaster recovery operation, combined with the fact that a huge percentage of the city’s residents gutted the first floor of their homes at the same moment.”
Officials said that 10,000 yards of debris is being removed daily, block by block. After complaints from residents that the process, particularly in the West End, was moving too slowly — some said their streets have still not received pickup three weeks since the storm — the city said that it had secured additional resources to assist.