What’s the price tag for Ocean County ‘s Hermine prep?
Tropical Storm Hermine, at the start, gave indications of a potentially expensive proposition for preparation. But it ended up being a comparative drop in the bucket for Ocean County, according to County Administrator Carl Block - less than $15,000, by his reckoning.
"It was relatively light," Block said, noting that precautions are built to start small and expand when necessary. In this case, since the storm grazed the New Jersey coast, it wasn't.
At the county Office of Emergency Management, helmed by Sheriff Mike Mastronardy, "we kept a skeleton crew," Block said. "We moved some shifts around, keeping them in regular time [instead of overtime]. We wound up spending about $1,200 of overtime."
Coastal road crews were busier, cleaning catch basins ahead of time, hauling out chain saws if tree- and branch-cutting became necessary.
"We had limited crews, about 50 men. Accounting for regular time, overtime and equipment, it came to about $12,500," Block said.
The only other expenditure, Block said, was for "miscellaneous adminstrative time for phone calls, e-mails, not enough to amount to anything at all."
Expenses for weather event prep in any season are included in the county's annual budget. So far, with only Hermine and the January blizzard racking up extraneous costs, finances are far from depleted.
"Don't forget, we came out of Sandy shock," Block said, recalling the inordinate costs associated with the 2012 Superstorm. "Talking to some of my peers around the state, it's hard to describe how your view of emergencies changes, once you've been through something like Sandy."