TIM GANNON PHOTO | A giant pile of superstorm Sandy debris has sat in front of Sheila Ganetis’ Morningside Avenue home in Jamesport for almost two months. Town officials say she’ll need to pay to get the junk removed.
Fence slats, wood pilings, tree trunks, even pieces of staircases.
Superstorm Sandy dumped a lot of debris at Sheila Ganetis’ Jamesport property — and at her mother’s house next door.
When volunteers later came to help with cleanup, much of the wreckage was piled in front of her Morningside Avenue home, waiting for road crews to remove it.
But there it has stayed.
And unfortunately for Ms. Ganetis, it now appears she’s stuck with it.
Riverhead Town’s highway department will take away only wood and brush left at curbs, not construction debris such as that outside Ms. Ganetis’ house, town highway officials said. As for the brush and cut-up tree pieces that are also in the pile, Ms. Ganetis said highway crews have told her they will only pick up brush that’s in a separate pile and not mixed in with other storm debris.
“The highway department rep who answered the phone [last Monday] told me that they were only taking vegetation now and that if there was one stick of non-vegetation, they wouldn’t take anything,” Ms. Ganetis said.
“I started crying on the phone.”
Town sanitation superintendent John Reeve said Ms. Ganetis will have to rent a dumpster and hire a private company to haul the storm debris away, adding that had his department known about the huge pile sooner, he might have been able to get removal paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“On Pye Lane in South Jamesport, they had massive piles of big stuff; they must have gotten everything in the bay washed up on their yards,” Mr. Reeve said, referring to the street adjacent to the town’s South Jamesport Beach.
Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, who is also the town’s emergency management coordinator, took FEMA officials down to Pye Lane and FEMA agreed to pay for disposal of the debris. About six 30-yard rolloff containers of debris were taken from that area, the chief said, adding that storm debris collected at the western end of Peconic Bay Boulevard also qualified for FEMA reimbursement.
The sanitation department will accept debris that’s no longer or taller than four feet and is put by the curbside in a pile or container on the designated bulk item pickup day, Mr. Reeve said.
“But big bulky stuff has to go in a dumpster,” he said. “If these people had called earlier, or gotten the stuff out earlier, I would have made the chief aware of it and FEMA might have included that for reimbursement.”
He said the deadline for FEMA reimbursement passed on Friday.
Ms. Ganetis said volunteers from West Virginia University affiliated with North Shore Christian Church in Riverhead helped clean up her property and the immediate area and piled up the debris on the curb on Dec. 18. Three days later, a highway department truck came down her street, taking away large piles of debris from further up the road. The crews never made it as far as her property. She had assumed at the time that they were coming back.
Mr. Reeve said that Ms. Ganetis’ situation is unique.
“Right now, everything is pretty much cleaned up,” he said.
While Ms. Ganetis was talking with a reporter outside her home on Monday, a payloader, dump truck and one other highway department vehicle came down her street.
Ms. Ganetis couldn’t believe her eyes.
But then, the trucks stopped, backed up, turned around and left.
Highway Superintendent George (Gio) Woodson later said those trucks “were only going around looking for residual stuff we may have missed.”