"Frankly, we are just coming up for air," Fair Haven Administrator Theresa Casagrande said in her report to the governing body at Monday's Borough Council meeting about Hurricane Sandy recovery.
Casagrande gave an update on some facts and figures concerning the borough's status in Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) funding, waterway cleaning, parks clearing, trees and brush in the post-Hurricane Sandy scene in Fair Haven.
According to information released by FEMA as of Jan. 8, Fair Haven had been allocated $18,750 for debris removal.
Right now, the given is that at least a portion of the Fair Haven Dock has to be rebuilt. Part of it is still sitting on a resident's lawn, which, Mayor Ben Lucarelli said, the borough is working on removing.
He has said that the dock should be again taversable by May or so.
Other than that, Casagrande said that borough officials have submitted to FEMA all the required paperwork "for all eligible storm-related expenses we have incurred to date" and expect to be reimbursed at a 75 percent rate.
The good news, she said, is that, unlike other area municipalities, Fair Haven was able to use a combination of 2012 budget, recycling and snow removal trust funds to fund the expsenses at hand rather than going the emergency appropriations route.
Rumson allocated $5 million in emergency appropriations for Sandy-related expenses recently.
On a smaller scope, Fair Haven received a storm-related credit of more than $1,000 from Jersey Central Power and Light Co. (JCP&L) to reimburse the account for during and after Sandy.
The lights, Casagrande said, are unmetered. The $1,000 or so "may not seem like a lot of money, but I assure you that prudent budget savings is as much about stringing together any number of small cost savings measures as it is about finding larger windfalls," the administrator said.
The borough's Department of Public Works (DPW) was also commended for doing a "phenomenal job" picking up "a tremendous quantity of brush and downed trees" in Sandy's wake, Casagrande said.
As part of an interlocal services agreement, Fair Haven processes Rumson's brush. Post-Sandy, 40 percent of Rumson's brush was removed and taken in by Fair Haven DPW.
In the months of November and December, between the two towns, 50,000 cubic yards of trees and brush were processed. That amounts to "more than twice what the two towns generated in all of 2011," Casagrande said.
Fair Haven's brush collection site is in the process of being restored and should be cleared and back up and running by spring, the administrator added, thanking the area residents for their cooperation and understanding in the transition.
With brush pick-up suspended for January and February, it will start up again in March, and "hopefully" no longer involve picking up huge tree trunks, Casagrande said.
And down by the Navesink River, all sorts of tree limbs and debris have been washing ashore with high tides.
Casagrande informed the public that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) is beginning its next phase of Sandy clean-up and removal of storm debris in waterways that represents a threat to public safety.
If you find or know of debris in waterways that may meet that criteria and needs to be removed, she said that contact to the DEP should be made to "ensure that it is in the scope of a DEP project," Casagrande said, reading an email from DEP she had received on Monday.
The DEP is currently scheduling meetings with applicable municipalities to review the process for moving debris from waterways.
On a final note, Casagrande said that officials took a walking tour of Fair Haven parks and found a "tremendous amount of downed trees in the Fair Haven Natural Area, bird sanctuary and fields. Cutting and clearing the trees was part of the costs submitted to FEMA for reimbursement, she said.