Federal Bucks for Sandy Cleanup Temporary Workers Largely Unused

The state just applied for an extension to put more than half a million federal dollars to use to hire temporary workers who were formerly unemployed to help clean up and repair damage done by Superstorm Sandy.

A pile of debris awaiting cleanup after Superstorm Sandy. Credit: Patch File Photo
A pile of debris awaiting cleanup after Superstorm Sandy. Credit: Patch File Photo

More than half a million dollars in federal funds earmarked for Storm Sandy cleanup across the state has gone unused a year after the storm, the Hartford Courant reported in Friday’s editions.

The money was supposed to go to hire 120 unemployed people for 20 weeks to work on various cleanup projects, but so far, only 24 people have been hired, according to the Courant. Part of the reason is that towns, which were supposed to request workers to help local crews, found other ways to accomplish their cleanup projects.

The deadline for using the rest of the money is coming quickly at the end of the month, putting the state into the position of having to apply for an extension to June 2014. That application, ironically, has not been processed because of the federal government shutdown.

The Courant reported in April that no one had been hired under the temporary-work grant, which received interest from more than 900 unemployed applicants when it was first announced. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy swooped in and promised action, but in the six months since then, only three crews are working — a 10-person team repairing a boardwalk at Rocky Neck Park in East Lyme, a crew in Stratford working at the Shakespeare Theatre and one person in Milford who started work just last week.

"The state had been trying to give us a temporary worker in regards to cleanup, but the cleanup is done," said Bill Richards, Milford's recovery coordinator, in the Courant story.

Some towns, such as Harwinton, got their cleanups done with volunteers.

"It's just heartwarming to see people come forward and do it on their own time," Harwinton First Selectman Michael Criss said in the Courant.


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