News Releases

Fire Island cleanup begins 24-hour operations

Published March 15, 2013

YAPHANK, N.Y. – Removal of Hurricane Sandy debris on Fire Island began March 2 and is scheduled to be complete by the end of March. In an effort to meet the March 31 completion goal, the debris removal contractors will begin work around the clock today.

"It is crucial that the work on the beach is finished before piping plover breeding season begins and restricts the movement of the debris removal vehicles,” said Lt. Col. John Knight, New York Recovery Field Office commander. “The barge operations carrying debris off the island start continuous operations Friday.”

The crews will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week transferring debris collected during daylight hours to barges after dark. Daily, barges and trucks haul debris from the island for disposal or recycling. Sifted sand and chipped vegetative debris will remain on Fire Island.

“We’re going to get this done as quickly and safely as we possibly can,” said Lt. Col. John Knight, commander of the Corps’ New York Recovery Field Office. “Our goal remains to finish by the end of March.”

The Corps awarded a $10.1 million task order for the project to Environmental Chemical Corporation of Burlingame, Calif., Feb. 27 under the advance contracting initiative. The ACI allows the Corps to pre-award contracts for major emergency response missions to put contractors to work. Under the ECC task order, at least 82 percent about $8.3 million – of the contracted work must go to local businesses. Cleanup work was delayed by more than a month by an atypical series of contract protests.

The task order includes removing debris from right-of-way and eligible private property, transporting it off the island and disposing of it in a safe and environmentally-sound manner. It also requires the separation and disposal of construction and demolition debris, segregation of “white goods” such as refrigerators and other appliances, disposal of e-waste such as televisions and computers, disposal of vegetative debris and sifting sand that presents a public safety hazard.

Fire Island is a remote barrier island with limited vehicle access. Travel is mostly limited to small boardwalks or sand pathways, and driving on the beach is required to access several Fire Island communities. Hauling debris on the beach will be restricted after March 15 due to the nesting season of the piping plover.  

Nearly 1,600 Fire Island homes damaged by the storm are currently eligible for debris removal assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency tasked the Corps Nov. 24 to assist with removing debris on Fire Island as part of the federal Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts for New York. An estimated 62,000 cubic yards of debris is eligible for removal – enough to cover a football field up to three stories high.

Media interested in visiting the debris removal operation should contact Chris Gray-Garcia with the Corps’ Fire Island emergency field office at (916) 296-8415 or (631) 504-6971.
Chris Gray-Garcia

Release no. 13-008