By Victoria Ahlers
The damage by Hurricane Irene to the Ramapo River and the areas surrounding it is still lingering long after the storm has passed. The storm, which hit last August, caused significant flooding, and powerful moving water, leaving behind a path of debris that if not removed will only cause future problems.
Among the problems caused by Irene was severe damage to nearby homes and businesses. There was a dam break near Arden in Orange County, sending a significant amount of water downstream, raising the already high water level of the Ramapo River. In its path, it brought down hundreds of trees, leaving them in the curves of the river bank, in perfect position to block the waterway’s future flow.
Cleanup efforts are currently being led by the Rockland County Drainage Agency along the Hillburn area of the Ramapo River. The agency is in charge of maintaining 80 miles of county-designated streams. Dozens of trees were knocked down and left within feet of a sports and recreation center. Hillburn was not the only area along the river to be affected by the storm. Agency director, Vincent Altieri, says that there are 48 sites on county-designated streams around the Rockland area that sustained damage. The county is seeking reimbursement for the cleanups. According to Altieri, the Ramapo River damages qualified for FEMA aid.
The cleanup costs for all 48 sites will be a total of $77,857. Seventy-five percent of that will be reimbursed by FEMA, and 12.5 percent will get reimbursed by the state, leaving the county to foot the remaining 12.5 percent, said Altieri.Within the last few weeks, agency workers have nearly completed walking the 80 miles of stream, monitoring their status, and determining whether or not additional cleanup will be needed, he added.