As Blizzard Bills Add Up, NJ Turns to Feds

By Brian Thompson
|  Monday, Jan 3, 2011  |  Updated 6:45 PM EDT
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Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Photo by Brian.

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Six hundred and ten thousand dollars. In Neptune Township down the Jersey Shore, $610,000 is the preliminary price tag for the clean up following last week's historic blizzard.

"A significant snow storm would cost us $100,000," said Michael Bascom, Neptune's Chief Financial Officer, who then added "This is a disaster."

Multiply that by the hundreds of municipalities both bigger and smaller than Neptune, and you begin to understand why Governor Chris Christie didn't hesitate last week to sign a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) asking its help to see if the state qualifies for a disaster declaration.

Another example, the New Jersey Turnpike spent $6 1/2 million dollars plowing its roads, according to spokesman Joe Orlando.

And he said that doesn't include sending Turnpike plows into several towns that were still buried in snow days after the toll roads were up and running.

Meanwhile the clean up appears to be far from over.

A week later, Neptune is still employing several private front end loaders to move snow off the community's streets.

That includes the historic Ocean Grove section on the Atlantic Ocean.

"It's been every day since the storm," Mark Rogers, a worker with the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association said of the on-street snow removal.

Asked how much more work he thinks they have among the narrow streets of Ocean Grove, Rogers said "a couple more weeks."

Some reports suggested FEMA would actually tour some of the hard hit communities, but New Jersey officials said that did not happen.

Instead, there was a meeting in Trenton to go over what the state has to do to apply for disaster status.

If FEMA does decide that New Jersey could qualify for a disaster declaration, only some of those costs would qualify for reimbursement.

According to Neptune's Bascom, he has to pick a 48 hour period(presumably with his highest expenses) that FEMA would then consider for reimbursement.so t

While FEMA did help out for two lesser winter storms a year ago, if it decided against doing so this time "the only source of funds that a municipality has is really the (local) taxpayer," said Bascom.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY and us @NBCNewYork,and on Facebook/NBCNewYork, and sign up for breaking news SMS alerts on your phone by texting “NYBREAKING” to 639710.

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