The U.S. government estimates 16 million cubic yards of debris accumulated around New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy.
Yet, two months after the storm, not even half of that amount has arrived at landfills, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Massive amounts of refuse – enough to fill the Empire State Building 16 times over – remains piled up in towering heaps, including sodden furniture, uprooted trees and smashed houses. The Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook was particularly hard hit by flooding.
However, cleanup has moved slightly faster in New York, which accounted for six of the 16 cubic yards of debris, versus 10 yards in New Jersey. Workers have cleared away 4.2 million of the six million cubic yards of debris in New York– approximately 90 percent of the debris, according to Mike Byrne, the FEMA coordinator overseeing New York’s recovery.
In New Jersey three of the 10 million yards of Sandy debris have been cleared away, according to Darrell Habisch, a spokesman for the agency's New Jersey office.
In New York, the Army Corps of Engineers has overseen the cleanup of more than 330,000 cubic yards of refuse, which made its way to landfills in 10,813 truckloads, mostly from sites in the Rockaways, Staten Island and Red Hook, said Patrick Moes, an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman.
"It was a long haul," said Jimmy McGovern, a deputy chief of the city's sanitation department who is overseeing the cleanup of the Rockaways. "Now we're coming toward the end of it. We're seeing the fruits of our labor."