Town giving away wood chips from all the brush collected post-Irene

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10/17/2011 3:44 PM |

TIM KELLY PHOTO | The downed trees that blocked off New Suffolk Road in New Suffolk have long been ground up into wood chips.Tim Kelly Photo The downed trees that blocked off New Suffolk Road in New Suffolk have long been ground up into wood chips.

Interested in picking up some free wood chips?

They’re large — up to six inches — and not particularly pretty, but courtesy of Tropical Storm Irene, Southold Town has tons of ’em to give away.

Since the hurricane-that-was hit Long Island with tropical storm-force winds  in August, the town has taken in 5,000 tons of brush and stumps and has been methodically grinding up that material, said Jim Bunchuck, town solid waste coordinator.

“We became hurricane central right after the storm,” he said. “It’s kept us quite busy, but we’ve managed to keep up with it. It’s been our number one priority since the end of August.”

The town has been heavily dependent upon a high-speed grinder purchased for $420,000 in 2004, Mr. Bunchuck added.

“We’ve gotten out money’s worth and — knock on wood — it’s still going strong,” he said. The town has run the 630-hp cylindrical grinder 9 to 10 hours a day five days a week since the storm passed, said Mr. Bunchuck.

“We grind it up and start swimming in wood chips,” said Mr. Bunchuck. “It’s surprising that it’s kept up this long, but in some areas there were a lot of downed trees.”

The  highway department is about 60 percent through  its special townwide storm debris collection. The time given to residents to drop off storm-caused brush and stumps without cost came to an end Sunday.

“The flow from the public has really dropped off,” Mr. Bunchuck said. “What’s been coming in has been freshly cut material so we knew it wasn’t storm related.”

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