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One Year Later, Irene Proves Costly For Briarcliff

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – One year later and signs of Hurricane Irene are no longer visible on the streets of Briarcliff Manor. But village officials are still sorting out the costs.

Irene had weakened to tropical storm status when it hit New York on Aug. 28, 2011. In Briarcliff Manor, the storm caused major flooding on Route 9A, Pleasantville Road and North State Road. Hundreds of residents lost power for a few days following the storm. Apart from the loss of power, Briarcliff Manor residents went largely unscathed.

Village Manager Philip Zegarelli said the village itself was not so lucky, as Irene caused nearly $2 million in storm damage. At least $550,000 is expected back in reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Hurricane Irene caused a lot of flooding, but in record time we were able to get people mobilized ... for the village and getting people assistance,” Zegarelli said, adding that Hurricane Irene can’t be considered alone. “When you talk about Irene, you have to overlap it with the big cloudburst storm we had in June and the snow on Halloween. It was just going from storm to storm to storm for a while.”

In the months following Irene, Zegarelli said, the village’s Public Works Department experienced what he calls “the law of diminishing successes.”

“You do a lot of programs and when you finish one, three more pop up,” he said. “And some of them had lingered for 10 or 15 years. It was a lot of work out there, and it was expensive. But from an infrastructure point of view, it was very necessary.”

Zegarelli said the storms allowed the village to examine its infrastructure more closely and complete repairs that officials might not otherwise have seen. The cleanup led to installation of the village’s new water system and more extensive clearing and snagging of the Pocantico River.

“We’re vastly improved because of it,” Zegarelli said. “We have some very old infrastructure, but I think overall we’re in much better shape now than we were before it hit.”

But the work is not yet complete, he said.

“Undoubtedly, lingering out there are other areas of infrastructure situations yet to show themselves,” he said. “The thing we’ve done which is different than some other places is that when we see something wrong in one place and there is another nearby, we make sure to do them both at one time to cut down on our expenses. But we have a ways to go.”

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