TOMS RIVER – Ocean County officials today released preliminary cost estimates associated with the cleanup of Winter Storm Grayson which was elevated to blizzard status by the time it hit the shore in the early morning hours of Jan. 4.
“Our departments were staged and ready to go at midnight,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Road Department. “This was a storm that dropped almost 19 inches of snow on some areas of the county. The snow combined with high winds and frigid temperatures made it difficult to cleanup. But our road crews and county staff got the job done.”
As of Jan. 10, the cost of salting, plowing and associated cleanup costs of Ocean County’s nearly 630 miles of roadways and county government facilities is an estimated $725,000, Little said.
Little noted the greatest share of the cost estimates – $675,000 – was in the Road Department. Included in that total is more than $337,000 for materials, $191,000 for overtime and $35,000 for subcontractors.
Prior to the storm, the county had on hand 25,000 tons of salt and 10,000 gallons of liquid calcium. More than 3,700 tons of salt was used during the storm along with 4,150 gallons of liquid calcium.
“The Road Department continued the cleanup throughout the weekend,” Little said. “We have the largest county road network in the state with more than 1,600 county lane miles. This was a big job to get those roads cleared and safe for motorists.”
Other County departments involved in the cleanup included the Ocean County Department of Vehicle Services, the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management, the Ocean County Parks and Recreation Department, the Bridge Department, and the Buildings and Grounds Department.
“Ocean County has more than 135 government buildings located across the County,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Buildings and Grounds. “It is essential that our parking lots and sidewalks are cleared so our employees can get to work and the public can access our services and programs.”
The buildings and grounds staff had 37 employees cleaning up after the storm. They used 768 bags of salt and worked almost 600 hours combined. Materials and overtime totaled about $18,500.
Little said another key County department involved in storm cleanups is the Department of Vehicle Services.
“That department provided almost 15,000 gallons of fuel to keep County vehicles on the roads during the cleanup,” said Little, who also is liaison to Vehicle Services. “They had 53 employees working throughout the storm. It is essential our vehicles, especially trucks that hold the plows, are properly maintained in order to clear our roads.”
The cost of overtime for the department was $11,700.
During a major snowstorm Ocean County, at any given time, has roughly 200 pieces of equipment on the county roads in addition to the private contractors that are called in to assist with salting and plowing operations.
Little noted that additional storm related costs were about $7,000 for assistance from the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management, about $12,000 for the Bridge Department, and about $3,000 in overtime for the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Ocean County also lent a helping hand to County residents who found themselves stranded in their vehicles and also to those essential services workers like doctors and nurses who had to get to work.
“Sheriff Michael Mastronardy activated the Ocean County Emergency Operating Center at Emergency Management around 4 a.m. the day of the storm and his department worked tirelessly helping our citizens,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety.
The public safety dispatchers under the Sheriff answered more than 500 emergency 911 calls during the storm.
“I along with my colleagues on the Board send my appreciation to the county staff – from our road department workers to our Office of Emergency Management and our switchboard operators that made it here on Thursday – they all worked diligently to get Ocean County moving again,” Little said.