Blizzard cleanup costs strain municipal budgets

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 5:47 PM EST
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TOWN OF HAMMOND, New York (WWNY) - The Blizzard of ‘22 is over, but cleanup costs are just rolling in. Two longtime north country officials say those costs are the highest they’ve seen from any single storm in their time on the job.

The town of Hammond spent $10,000 keeping the roads clean throughout the Blizzard of ‘22. Town Supervisor Ron Bertram says most of it kept plows on the roads, paying the 3-person crew overtime.

“This is my 13th year here and we’ve never had that type of event. I can remember the Ice Storm of ‘98 and the Blizzard of ‘77. I’m old enough, but I wasn’t in the town office,” he said.

Each year the town allots $250,000 towards cleanup. Although costs from this storm were higher than usual, Bertram says Hammond will be fine because an early spring in 2022 saved some money.

“We probably got a free month last year. We had sand, salt, and no overtime so we’re within budget,” he said.

In the neighboring town of Alexandria, the storm ran up a much larger bill.

Its highway department has a 10-person team, and over the better part of a week, it spent $71,214.02.

Alexandria Highway Superintendent Mike Tibbles says that puts a strain on the budget, but it shouldn’t pose many issues.

“The board has been pretty generous. They’ll help me out when I need it. I have all the faith in the world for them and that part of it,” he said.

Throughout Christmas Day, crews got pretty used to the inside of the plows. On Christmas Eve, they spent 13 and a half hours in the seat. Christmas itself: 14 hours.

“Those guys are the heroes. Those guys didn’t get Christmas or Christmas Eve with their families. They stayed on the roads and they helped as every plow driver in northern New York did,” said Tibbles.