'Polar Vortex' Costs Indy Millions

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says this month's arctic blast cost more than $6 million in manpower and supplies. The city says the so-called polar vortex cost other organizations, including the Indianapolis International Airport and area hospitals, more than $1 million.

January 21, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. -- The City of Indianapolis today announced spending approximately $6.4 million fighting near blizzard conditions followed by a polar vortex between January 5 and January 8, 2014.

"There is no doubt this was a historic storm by all measures including the amount spent by the City to clear the streets and protect people from the cold," said Mayor Ballard.

The City spent over $5.1 million on manpower, overtime, and salt by the Indy Snow Force and use of private contractors to clear secondary and residential streets. The 2014 budget for Indy Snow Force is $7.3 million.

"That single storm consumed more than half of the annual budget for the Indy Snow Force," said Public Works Director Lori Miser. "However, that will not affect our ability to keep fighting this winter weather and clear Indianapolis streets. If we exceed our snow budget this winter, we will work with city leaders to shift the necessary funds to cover costs."

Other agencies spent approximately $1.3 million for storm recovery. Highlights of that spending include the following:

• $331,000 at the Indianapolis International Airport;

• $85,000 to open emergency shelters for homeless and those without power;

• $125,000 for IMPD, IFD, and evacuation of people without power by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office; and,

• $320,000 in costs to Marion County Hospitals who reported figures to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Mayor Ballard declared this storm a winter weather disaster on January 10, 2014 and requested the Governor seek federal disaster assistance. Marion County meets the qualifications by receiving snowfall within ten percent of its record snowfall and spending in excess of $3.16 million. Should the FEMA grant the petition, government units in Marion County could recover costs for items such as: overtime for snow removal, privately contracted snow removal, opening evacuation shelters and evacuee transportation, and storm damage repair. Of the DPW $5.1 million in total storm costs, it is estimated that $2.1 could be eligible for reimbursement.

Source: City of Indianapolis