Progress, if slow, on Barnes
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As far as the Presses are concerned, a substantial amount of work still needs to be done to fulfill a promise County Executive Ed Mangano made in mid-November to “provide for cleaning out and decontamination of certain identified homes and areas in Baldwin and East Rockaway related to sewer system breaches caused during Superstorm Sandy.”
“I think what [the county wants] to do and what they fiscally can do are not in sync,” Jeffrey said.
“I was promised by Mangano that he would clean up the house,” Erica added. “Face to face, on my front step, he said, ‘This house is first. It’s the priority.’”
The county sees the situation on Barnes differently. Martino and Mangano could not address the Press family’s situation specifically, but both said that residents of Barnes Avenue were getting the help they needed.
Martino, who pointed out the DPW’s contention that pre-Sandy weaknesses in the Barnes Avenue sewer cap were not the cause of its failure during the storm, said that most residents of the affected areas were pleased with the steps taken on their behalf. “The residents have understood the difficulty of this task,” he said, “and have been appreciative of the county’s response to this issue.”
Asked what services the county had provided, Martino said, “Homes have been assessed by JC Broderick for any impact from sewage.” (JC Broderick is a Hauppauge- based environmental consulting firm.) He also said that a second company, Brach Services, was performing “demolition and sanitizing work to stabilize the homes while homeowners prepare to complete final repairs.”
Mangano also claims that he is delivering. “We immediately provided an industrial hygienist,” he said. “They removed, with the homeowners’ permission, any contaminants. We’re committed to helping all the residents who were affected.”
Although they were happy with the county’s initial work on their behalf, the Presses said, they feel there’s a long way to go. “The work here stopped with demo and stabilization,” said Jeffrey, a photographer. “The sewage itself has not been removed from my home. The sewage is still there, soaked into the structure. No biocide was sprayed.”