Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 15, 2014

Snow storm proves costly to Effingham departments

Tony Huffman
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — With one of the worst winter storms in recent history behind us, what remains is the financial burden to city departments. 

The city spent $30,000 on personnel, equipment and materials associated with plowing roads, said Director of Public Works Steve Miller. Manpower to run snowplows nonstop cost $25,050 while $4,928 was spent on salt usage.

“We worked people overnight on 12-hour shifts,” said Miler. “We wanted to keep the streets open for an emergency.”

One-quarter of the city's salt reserves were used, or about 80 tons, which the city will be replenishing at a cost of $61.60 a ton.

Although the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is denying financial assistance, they requested a report outlining the cost of the storm, said Miller. They will take the cost of the storm into account if there is another costly event, added Miller.

“We budget for overtime events, but this put a strain on us,” said Miller, who has worked for the city for 12 years. “I don't remember a weather event this bad, except maybe an ice storm a few years ago. We had weather that was negative 12 degrees and 12 inches of snow. It was an extraordinary storm.”

The Effingham Police Department reported a total of $23,000 in additional personnel costs because of the hazardous conditions.

“We took all of our personnel working on those days on other duties, like narcotics and detectives, and put everyone on road,” said Effingham Police Chief Mike Schutzbach, who added he also was on patrol.

Law enforcement worked to direct traffic as a massive amount of semitrucks flooded off the interstates due to hazardous road conditions, said Schutzbach.

“We had 630 extra man hours to keep the community safe, and the city out of gridlock,” he said.

For Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy, the event highlighted the city's capability to keep its residents safe during a major event.

The total cost for both the city's Emergency Management Agency, which coordinated warming centers in the city, and the Effingham Fire Department was $14,954, said Holomy.    

The fire department worked with law enforcement to direct the nearly 5,000 semis that were in the city during the storm. That figure is a significant increase from the 1,500 that are usually in the city, said Holomy.

According to Holomy, the Ron Diehl Recreation Center and Effingham Performance Center were filled Monday and Tuesday night with travelers stranded in the city, bringing in 600 people in search of shelter.

For more, see an upcoming print edition.