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Salem ice storm recovery expected to take several more months, cost $4.5 million

A long line of vehicles forms at the debris drop-off site at Woodmansee Park on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 in Salem, Oregon.

The City of Salem has spent months recovering from the February ice storm that left thousands without power and blocked roadways, but it’s expected to take several more months at a total cost of more than $4.5 million.

Officials expect to spend millions of dollars in the aftermath to repair infrastructure and clear downed trees.

As of April 21, a total of $1.3 million has been spent on the city's response and recovery efforts.

According to an informational report submitted to Salem City Council, the total estimated cost of the city's recovery efforts is expected to be $4.6 million.

During Monday's city council meeting, councilors voted unanimously to approve increasing the general fund expenditure appropriation by $1.4 million to aid in recovery.

While more funds are needed, a significant portion of the storm recovery costs is expected to be reimbursed through insurance or federal funds, according to city officials.

The city has insurance for up to $1.75 million with a $500,000 deductible for damage related to right-of-way trees, landscaping and other property.

Because the State of Oregon requested a federal disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the city manager signed a Declaration of a State of Emergency related to the storm, the city was able to take the first steps of securing federal disaster assistance from FEMA.

The agency's decision is pending, but if FEMA determines the ice storm was a disaster, the city's spending on recovery will be eligible for reimbursement.

The public works department report to city council included total projected spending to be $3 million from the general and parks fund, $791,447 from the transportation fund, $30,000 from the streetlight fund and $737,653 from the utility fund.

Marion County officials said they expect to spend about $4 million in storm recovery efforts. The county landfill collected more than 70,000 yards of material free of charge in the month following the storm.

Although the city's public works deactivated its emergency operating center on April 2, recovery remains underway. Damaged trees, downed limbs and debris are still being removed at city parks and on right-of-ways.

Storm maintenance personnel are also continuing to clear streams and creeks of debris to reduce the chance of flooding during the spring rains, and street maintenance staff are working to repair sidewalks, fences, handrails and streetlights damaged by downed trees.

Salem storm recovery by the numbers

86: Traffic signals impacted by outages

400: Tons of sanding rock applied to roads during the storm

4,115: Tree assessments completed by the city's urban forestry staff

1,192: Calls for service to public works dispatch in the week after the storm

6,050: Tons of wood chips created from downed trees and limbs made available for free to the public at Bush's Pasture Park and the Oregon State Fairgrounds.

214: Tons of logs and timber cut from the downed trees.

20,600: Vehicle/trailer loads of debris brought to collection sites following the storm.

31,000: Cubic yards of debris collected at the sites.