Opinion: Street department prepared for worst
Commentary by Pete Smith
Carmel Street Department Director Dave Huffman was in high school when the blizzard of 1978 dumped about 15 inches of snow on Carmel and canceled school for weeks.
And while this month’s snowstorm deposited only a foot of snow and canceled classes for the better part of a week, Huffman said the response was much-improved this time around despite the added disruption of a deadly cold wind chill during the cleanup days.
“We’ve been well-prepared to handle what we’ve gotten,” he said.
The street department deployed its 20 salt trucks and used 52 other vehicles equipped with plows from the city utilities, engineering department and department of community services to begin clearing the streets as the snow started piling up on Jan. 5.
The bulk of the clearing was accomplished Jan. 5 and 6, with additional cleanups due to drifting snow throughout the rest of the week, Huffman said.
Calculating the total cleanup cost using FEMA rates, the two-day total came to $232,551, he said. Broken down, that’s $157,172.26 for salt, fuel, trucks and equipment and $75,378.74 in labor costs.
Huffman said the department doesn’t use any materials to treat roadways prior to a snowfall like INDOT does with highways – just salt once the snow has fallen.
“Nothing works better than salt,” he said.
Huffman also said that despite calculating his calendar year budgets during the previous summer, he should be fine to get through the rest of this year.
“We plan and prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said of his budget philosophy.
He also has found success by proposing a budget based on the average needs of the previous five years.
Huffman said he also would like to thank the citizens of Carmel.
“We appreciate their patience and understanding during this winter so far,” he said.