N.J. dealing with deluge of rubbish from Sandy
MANASQUAN, N.J. — One can see the destruction of Superstorm Sandy just by looking out at the curb.
Landscapes of destroyed furniture, tree branches and jagged metal stretch for miles along the streets of once-picturesque New Jersey shore towns, leaving officials wondering how they will get rid of all the garbage.
Cash-starved communities and waste companies are struggling to haul the debris away as the piles of trash become even bigger safety hazards.
“It's been quite a challenge,” said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “The bottom line is, as soon as we pick it up, there is a mountain full out there again.”
On a normal day, the city of Hoboken averages about 60 tons of trash. Since the hurricane, workers have hauled an average of 300 tons a day and peaked one day at 570 tons.
“It's a public safety issue, and it's a quality-of-life issue,” Zimmer says.
The city is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Environmental Protection to make sure it gets the financial coverage it needs to continue the mass pickups.
Cleanup is constant, and there's no end in sight.
“It's going to take months,” said Mario Schito Jr., president of M&S Waste Services, which serves Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey.
Sandy's devastation is taking a big toll on the company's finances.
M&S pays by the pound to dump its trash at the Monmouth County landfill. Normally, the service spends about $40,000 a week on dumping, but in the past few weeks, it has paid about $35,000 more than usual each week.
The company ordered more trucks and hired additional workers to try to manage the seemingly endless job. On top of the added expenses, the money isn't coming in, because displaced customers have been unable to pay bills.
“It's emotional,” Schito says. “You have no idea what its like out there. People are calling, crying; they lost their businesses, they lost their homes, and the debris is still just everywhere, all over their streets.”