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Storm may cost more than 2011 blizzard

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The past five days of nearly non-stop snow may end up costing Evanston tax payers as much or more to clean up as the blizzard of 2011.

After the early February 2011 storm, city officials estimated they'd spent $354,000 on staff overtime and cleanup materials.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson today says the new storm, that started New Year's Eve, has been more challenging than the blizzard because it's kept crews moving snow around for several days — and piled up roughly as much snow as the blizzard dropped in just a day-and-a-half.

Robinson said the city has faced a few challenges getting salt deliveries. "We're still in pretty good shape to get through the storm," Robinson said, "but we have a backlog of orders to get the salt dome filled again so we're ready for the next snow event."

She added Evanston is in better shape than many other suburbs, because it has crews on duty at the Municipal Service Center, where the salt dome is located, 24 hours a day and can receive deliveries of salt during the overnight hours.

Robinson said the city likely used more salt this time than for the blizzard because of the much longer duration of the storm, but it's also used more liquid chemicals for deicing, with new trucks equipped to dispense them, and that reduces the amount of salt needed.

In addition, Robinson said, the city has not had to do as much towing of cars this time, and that's reduced police overtime associated with the storm.

She said she hopes to have figures on the costs ready for next week's City Council meeting.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she's gotten more compliments than complaints about how the snow cleanup effort has gone, and said one caller urged her to tell workers that "everyone's doing a great job."

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