Ice storm cleanup entering final phase

The town is making sure to follow the procedures set forth in the FEMA debris management guide, which must be followed to account for all the funds that are to be reimbursed.

"You have to document what you're spending is a reasonable expense and document that the fees that you're paying the contractor are reasonable expenses," said Kukuk. "If they're not satisfied, they can require the funds to be returned."

The cost of cleanup will come from the town's general fund, and reimbursements will go back in.

Cleanup of the debris started following the storm, but the onset of winter weather stymied those efforts. Towns in southern Saratoga County like Clifton Park and Halfmoon were pummeled by the ice storm, more so than other communities in the Capital District. Many residents were without power for days on end and sought refuge at town halls and Red Cross warming shelters. Altogether, about 263,000 homes across the Capital District lost power.

In Halfmoon, cleanup has been progressing as weather allowed after the storm, but Highway Superintendent John Pingelski said that about 40 percent of the work still remains.

"We've been actively doing it since December, and once the weather cleared, we've been putting in 10-hour days," he said.

Halfmoon has elected to leave the cleanup to its Highway Department, with 20 employees, in an effort to control costs. Inmates from Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility also began assisting the effort recently.

Pingelski said he couldn't comment on the cost of cleanup efforts until they are closer to completion, but he did say that Halfmoon will be receiving the same federal and state assistance as in Clifton Park, including on the purchase of a new wood chipper that's handling much of the debris.

By selling the chipped debris to the Finch Pruyn Paper Mill of Glens Falls, the cost of hauling away the debris is mitigated.

With 107 miles of road in Halfmoon, Pingelski estimated that cleanup will be completed sometime in mid-May. Until then, he advised residents to stack branches neatly by the side of the road, wide end out, and to exercise patience.""

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