The winter storm that began Jan. 10 and over a 24-hour period would drop 6-8 inches of snow and a thin layer of ice all over Barrow County came with a price tag of about $100,000 for local governments.
The county government was the hardest hit at an estimated cost of about $80,000, and commission chairman Danny Yearwood said he is hoping the federal government will reimburse some of that.
“We’re getting our application together,” he said. “We’re going to try to get all the help we can.”
Yearwood said county road crews spread 400-450 tons of salt and rock on county roads. At a cost of $3,200 for each of the 16-18 loads purchased, that tab came to more than $50,000, he said.
A dozen workers in Barrow County’s roads & fleet department also worked about 125 hours of overtime, and the county incurred about $7,000 in overtime costs for emergency services manpower, he added.
“We are going to be around $80 grand,” Yearwood said. “It may be a little over.”
Winder city administrator Don Toms said his city’s primary cost was for the de-icing material that city employees spread on local roads inside the city limits.
“We haven’t gone through all the calculations yet,” he said. “However, I’m thinking it was just the cost of the salt-and-gravel mixture, which we already had on hand anyway, and whatever overtime may have been added.”
He said the overtime costs for Winder were kept to a minimum, because the hourly workers who helped in the clean-up would have paid their regular wages if they had stayed at home, and the city only added on top of that “half-time pay” as overtime.
Also, the employees manning city road equipment were salaried department managers who stepped up without receiving any additional compensation.
“The people running the bobcats and moving snow were Mike Jewell, the head of the gas department, and Roger Wilhelm, who manages water distribution,” Toms said. “They worked Monday through Wednesday evening moving snow, and they are salaried employees.”
They had maybe three from their crew that volunteered to get out and help, but there were not many of them,” Toms said. “So I would say our cost will be less than $10,000 when you include the overtime.”
Another factor holding down Winder’s clean-up costs is the fact that the Georgia Department of Transportation was responsible for clearing the multiple state highways inside the city limits.
“They were a few days behind us, but they did mange to have the roads pretty well cleared by Wednesday,” Toms said.
His city also had recently bought a salt box that was ready to go when the storm hit.
“It worked beautifully,” he said.
A new blade for the dump truck carrying the saltbox did not arrive until after the roads were cleared, however.
“We also ordered a new blade for the dump truck that carries the salt box, and that was not hooked up in time,” Toms said. “It was coming in the (Monday) morning that the storm hit. Because mail service was canceled, we didn’t get the part in until Thursday. We were very, very close on that one.”
Auburn city manager Ron Griffith said officials in his city are currently reviewing the winter storm episode and evaluating the possible need for equipment and a command center.
“We will be exploring some creative ways of dealing with these events in the future,” Griffith said.
He said the Auburn Police Department assisted more than 20 motorists and helped other citizens in a multitude of ways.
“Public Works spread sand and salt by hand at intersections,” he said. “However, because of the situation of recurring ice, our roads were extremely unsafe Monday through Thursday.”
After the internal review of the weather emergency, city officials will develop a contingency plan for future events.
“However, ice will remain a difficult obstacle to overcome, especially when temperatures stay below freezing,” Griffith said.
Braselton city manager Jennifer Dees said Wednesday her town’s response to the winter storm cost the government about $950.
The mayors of Bethlehem and Statham said their governments incurred no costs.
“We didn’t have any clean-up costs at all, because we don’t have anything to clean up with,” said Bethlehem Mayor Sandy McNab. He said in the wake of the storm, he has been considering whether the town should purchase a large fertilizer spreader.
“No more salt that we’ve got to put out, we could put it out with a big fertilizer spreader,” he said. “It was do just as good, and we wouldn’t have to put rocks out with the salt.”