FEMA funds OK’d for sewage plant

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Upgrades, mitigation planned

The project will include the construction of a large dike around the plant to provide protection against flooding, the elevation and strengthening of the electrical plant distribution system and pump stations, the repair of generators in order to take the plant off temporary power, the construction of a larger sewage collection line to accommodate increased flow levels during storm surges, and the strengthening and replacement of the sludge dewatering equipment and the building that houses it, which were damaged during Sandy.

“That’s great news,” said East Rockaway resident Rich Cittadino, who runs the annual East Rockaway Classic Car Show, held just a half-mile mile from the plant each summer. “Hopefully the residents of East Rockaway and Bay Park will feel a little more relieved when this major overhaul is completed.”

Another resident, Heidi Chelius, said she, too, was happy to hear the news. “It was long overdue,” she said. “Even before the storm damage, Band-Aids could only do so much. Move forward and start the necessary repairs.”

The County Legislature unanimously approved a no-interest, fully reimbursable $463 million loan from the State Environmental Facilities Corporation in November for plant repairs, but according to Mike Martino, spokesman for the county’s Department of Public Works, this new federal and state funding will eliminate the need for the state loan.

The estimated cost to fully repair the plant is $850 million, Martino added. “Moving forward, the county is still seeking additional funds to complete the repairs to the plant,” he said.

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