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Cost of Irene's punch still uncertain

Bethlehem assessing scope of tropical storm's damage

— The town's Henry Hudson Park in Selkirk also sustained some damage. The fishing pier took a beating but is still there despite the Hudson flowing up into the park, and a tree crashed through the roof of a pavilion, said Administrator of Parks and Recreation Nan Lanahan. Additionally, the whole park up through the softball fields is now covered in mud.

“The park is open, it's just not really usable right now with all of the muddy conditions,” Lanahan said.

A silver lining in the devastation is the town's roads. Highway Superintendent Gregg Sagendorph said the state-, county- and town-owned roads escaped damage beyond a few shoulders washing out. The department’s still focusing on cleaning up all the debris the storm created, though, to the extent it will impact paving plans for the year.

“I don't want to say we've suspended the program, but we've sure put it on the back burner,” Sagendorph said.

Bethlehem residents are asked to pile branches at the side of the road for collection and heed any road closures that might still be in effect.

President Barack Obama has declared many areas of the Northeast disaster areas, including Albany County. That opens the door to federal disaster aid, but the process is just getting under way. Even then, it can take years for municipalities to collect checks in these instances, and federal relief rarely covers the full pricetag for recovery.

Some estimated put the hurricane's U.S. damage as high as $1 billion. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently put the damage in New York at $1 billion.

Residents who suffered damage in the storm may also qualify for federal assistance. To apply for Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) aid, visit disasterassistance.gov.

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