BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It happened nearly four years ago and we're just now learning the real cost of the "October Surprise" storm.
Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz said, "The initial estimates were that this was going to cost $150 million. Well, it didn't. It cost $56 million."
$56 million turns out to be Erie County government's final cost of the October Surprise storm of 2006. Because 400,000 people were without power, WNY was declared a major disaster area, and the Federal Government paid for it all. Erie County actually made about a million dollars on the storm.
"No county dollars were spent because we actually will get more from the federal government than what was spent because of certain reimbursement rates," explained Poloncarz.
It's all detailed in a new final report on the storm by Poloncarz. The report shows that most of the expense, $39 million, went to private contractors. $3 million went to pay county overtime. About $1 million in overtime was shared by the top 20 overtime earners. Most of them worked for the Sheriff's office. Seven of the top 20 overtime earners have since retired with a better pension because of the storm.
Poloncarz said, "Some of them worked hundreds or thousands of hours. I think the largest overtime earner earned over $70,000 in overtime alone. They worked, and I'm not saying they didn't work, and I'm not criticizing the people, they earned the overtime hours, but it did help their pensions out."
Now, almost four years later, Erie County is still waiting on the last reimbursement check of nearly $2 million from the State Emergency Management Office.
"We received word late today after we issued the report that it appears that money is coming very soon, so I'm hopefully gonna be able to close the books on the October Surprise storm almost four years from the day it happened," said Poloncarz.
The city of Buffalo spent $32 million on the storm, and although FEMA is still reviewing it, the mayor's office is confident it will all be covered.
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