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City still cleaning up

December 1, 2012
By Anthony Gaynor and Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writers , The Inter-Mountain

The cleanup of Elkins following Superstorm Sandy is still an ongoing process, and one that will take some time to complete, Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley said this week.

"So far we have two of the five wards in pretty good shape," Pingley said. "Both 1st and 2nd wards have been completed."

Pingley said part of the issue is shortened daylight available due to the time change from daylight savings time.

"There is not a tremendous amount of overtime, (but) we are behind on some of our regular cleanup items," Pingley said. "We are still trying to do leaf pickup as well."

The focus of the cleanup is making the streets and sidewalks safe.

"We are asking residents not to put their tree limbs and brush in the street," Pingley said. "We are also asking them to please keep the sidewalks open. Children walking to school, those with motorized wheelchairs and those walking need to be able to access the sidewalks rather than travel in the streets."

Pingley said one issue is that not all the broken limbs in trees fell down.

"All it will take is another wind or heavy snow storm to bring those branches down as well," he said. "The November storm seems to be the storm that keeps on giving."

In West Virginia, 18 counties, including Randolph, were declared disaster areas by President Barack Obama Tuesday. This declaration makes federal funding available to eligible local governments.

"We have been keeping track of all of our costs associated with the storm and its aftermath," Pingley said. "We hope to be able to seek reimbursement for vehicle usage, fuel and worker hours."

Elkins Fire Department Chief Tom Meader said the West Virginia disaster declaration should improve the situation. He said the amount of overtime, equipment usage and fuel costs from Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on his budget.

Meader said each of the four paid firefighters each had around 106 hours of work during the week of the storm, with each member receiving 66 hours of overtime. Meader said calls were coming in back-to-back and many members of the department spent the entire week at the fire station.

Meader is hoping the department will be reimbursed from FEMA for the overtime and the massive amounts of fuel that had to be used to keep the trucks and the station's generator running.



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