Recycling yards across northern New Jersey are quickly filling up with so much downed tree debris from last month's freak October snowstorm that the state is running out of places for it to go.
In Englewood's Department of Public Works yard, one front-end loader does nothing but try to make room for more leaves and debris to come. In Cresskill, where there is no town yard to take all the branches, three woodchippers work non-stop to handle the branches
"We dump to a local hardware store, they charge us no fee," said Kevin Terhune, Cresskill DPW director. "If we were to bring it to a recycling center, they would be charging us money."
The dump site is the Benjamin Brothers hardware store in neighboring Tenafly, where the raw chips are then put into an 18-wheeler to be trucked to upstate New York for processing and storage.
The end product is a fine-grade mulch that hardware stores will sell.
In Paramus, the town residents are simply given the mulch for free. Three long mountains of mulch sit in the parking lot for the town's swimming pool.
And Tenafly will soon be renting a huge tub grinder for $5,000 a day.
"We're hoping for FEMA relief, that's been the policy up until now," said Tenafly mayor Peter Rustin. "The concern is how much money does FEMA have, because we're just one town."
At Raveine and Laurel, the street by street cleanup goes on. Shared services means trucks from as far away as Westwood are being used, though with Tenafly DPW drivers.
"We'll keep some for our parks and residents, but this amount is way too much for us," said Bob Beutel, Tenafly DPW director.