I-Team: Winter weather price tag on Wake County

Three days after a snowstorm, several local cities are still not back to normal.
January 31, 2014 3:48:56 PM PST
Three days after a snowstorm, several local cities are still not back to normal.

The ABC11 I-Team took a look, specifically at the city of Raleigh, to see how much all the cancellations and delays cost families and businesses.

The I-Team wanted to look at the cost, not just in clean up, but overall productivity. The work that was missed because people could not get to work or had to stay home because their kids were home from school. Turns out, that is a hard number to get.

The storm did not paralyze the area completely like other parts of the country, but there was clearly a slowdown. Kids in Wake County and other counties out of school for four days.

For many parents, four unplanned school cancellations in a row had them scrambling.

"For working parents, this has really been tough on them," said one Triangle mom.

By one measure, Raleigh and Cary, together, generate $168 million in economic activity every day.

It is impossible to say how much of that was lost over the last four days, but Raleigh's Public Works Director, Carl Dawson, acknowledges it was significant.

"I always tell people...I hate January storms," Dawson said.

That is because of the cold, which accompanied this storm in spades.

"The temperatures were below the range where salt works," Dawson said.

There are things that work better than salt in cold weather, but they have drawbacks, from a shelf life, to environmental concerns, to cost, and for Dawson, that is what it all comes down to.

"I think it's a balancing act in terms of resources versus costs," he said.

Dawson says the city is trying to replace five trucks this year, at a cost of $775,000. They also looked at the cost of adding 10 employees, and all the equipment they would need. That cost came out to $1 million.

He says it would not have made a big difference in getting the roads cleared. That, he says, would take resources the city does not have, and likely, will not get.

"We have to balance how much we're spending on resources that are used sparingly, versus how much we put into resources we use on a daily basis to deliver the core services to our citizens," Dawson said.

Dawson says he thinks the city did about as well as it could with what they had, but will look at whether they should have had more or different resources. As far as school cancellations go, he says he thinks Raleigh roads were good to go Friday, but points out, it is a county-wide system.

ABC11 I-Team asked school officials about it, they said student safety is the priority.

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