Fort Wayne expenses from snow storm total more than $500,000

Winter Blast 2014

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The major snow storm that dropped more than a foot of snow on Sunday January 5 will cost the city more than $500,000 to clean up.

On January 5, more than a foot of snow fell on Fort Wayne, and it took crews nearly a week to clean up.

According to Allen County’s Director of Homeland Security Bernie Beier, the storm cost Fort Wayne approximately $533,000.

“That was a very big snow storm, by any standard,” Fort Wayne Public Works spokesperson Frank Suarez said.  “When you add into that the wind we had all week and the extreme cold temperatures, the wind chill was measuring about 40 below.”

Suarez broke down the cost to the city, and how the total came to $533,000.  The cost includes:

  • $100,000 in overtime to mainly street department workers.  Some of that total was for overtime for 311 and city utility workers, too.
  • $180,000 in salt was used during that week.
  • $150,000 was used to pay private contractors to help plow side streets and alleys.

Suarez said the city has about $550,000 this year for salt, and said there’s a chance the street department will have to go back to city council and ask for more money for salt.

“We don’t know what the rest of winter will hold,” Suarez said.  “We could get a break and not have any events, but I know we may have another one later this week.  You just never know what it’s going to be year-to-year.  The last two years have been down a little bit, and we haven’t used a much salt.”

Suarez said that snow trucks used on average in the winter about 7,500 gallons a week.  The week of the storm, city trucks were using 7,500 every two days.

“I think our focus is always on safety and getting the streets opened again,” Suarez said.  “We know we’re a significant city in Indiana that needs to keep commerce going.  People have places to go, and we need to get the schools open.”

Allen County unlikely to receive federal aid

Beier said Indiana counties have until Wednesday to submit paperwork to receive federal aid from the storm, but added it appeared unlikely that Allen County would meet the requirements.

Beier said two things must happen for the county to receive federal aid.

One, the amount of snow must exceed the county record, or be within 10 percent of the county’s record.  Beier said Allen County received 13.2 inches of snow, which was within 10 percent of the county’s record of 14 inches.

The storm must also cost the county more than $1.2 million.  As of Tuesday, Beier said the total was around $800,000.  Those numbers came from cities and towns in Allen County, along with school districts, and other departments.

Beier said the following was some of the larger costs:

  • City of Fort Wayne – $533,000
  • Allen County Highway Department – $75,000
  • Fort Wayne Airports – $45,000
  • City of New Haven – $19,000
  • Town of Leo-Cedarville – $7,000
  • Town of Woodburn – $5,000

The storm took several days to clean up for many people, but Beier said each department could only look at a 48-hour window.

“For the streets, it might have been best to look at the 48 hours where they were doing the most plowing,” Beier said.  “Which may have been Sunday and Monday.  However, for the schools, it may have been best to look at Monday and Tuesday.  Each department could pick there own 48-hour window.”

Beier said Allen County’s cost could go up when INDOT, the DNR, and other state agencies, like the National Guard, put in their cost, too, but Beier didn’t think that would be enough to reach the $1.2 million mark.

However, Beier did add that the county’s total cost will be sent to the state, to help the state possibly become eligible for federal relief.  He said the state needs to show that the storm cost Indiana more than nine million dollars, but it’s unlikely Allen County would get some of that money from the state.

Beier said that money is usually given to more rural counties.

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