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Sandy Cleanup Means Job Opportunities At N.J. State Parks

A closed area at Liberty State Park - March 18, 2013 (credit: Peter Haskell / WCBS 880)

A closed area at Liberty State Park – March 18, 2013 (credit: Peter Haskell / WCBS 880)

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) - Cleanup from superstorm Sandy at New Jersey state parks has provided a boost in job opportunities for those looking for work.

When Sandy roared through, parts of Liberty State Park were submerged.

“We had about a 15 foot storm surge,” Deputy Superintendent Jon Luck told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell. “Right now, I can report that about a thousand tons of debris has been removed from the park.”

Much of the work has been done by people hired with federal money.

State Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths said this is true for parks across New Jersey.

“It enabled us to hire 1,000 people to help with the cleanup efforts,” he said Monday, noting that over 700 are currently working.

“Well, the $15.6 million we estimate will last us at least six months for 1,000 workers,” he said. The money for the jobs comes from a federal grant.

Wirths said this not only benefits the parks, but those in need. For this people, this is critical.

“It’s very, very exciting seeing these people who’ve been long-term unemployed and all they want to is go to work,” he said.

Crews including formerly unemployed New Jerseyans have hauled about 1,000 pounds of debris out of the park and are fixing a waterfront walkway.

New Jersey’s unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, one of the nation’s highest.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in November that a federal grant would put 5,000 unemployed New Yorkers to work cleaning up Sandy damage.

Wirths and other state officials stood in a cold, blustery park ahead of a storm, and said regardless of the conditions many are glad to be back at work.

“On a day like today, as cold as it is out, they’re just grateful to be working,” Wirths said.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)