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Crews clear downtown Deadwood's Main Street in Deadwood on Oct. 7. Communities in the Northern Hills have spent about $1 million in snow removal and other blizzard clean-up costs following the early October storm. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Tom Griffith)

Blizzard cleanup costing Northern Hills cities

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SPEARFISH (AP) — Snow removal costs in the northern Black Hills communities of Lead, Deadwood and Spearfish approached $1 million after the Oct. 4 blizzard that dumped as much as 5 feet of snow in the region.

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"This storm was spectacularly unexpected," Lead City Administrator Mike Stahl told the Rapid City Journal. "The blizzard was so dramatic because first, we haven't had a storm like this in October for many, many years, and the other factor is we lost power here for many days."

Lead Mayor Jerry Apa credited help from the state Department of Transportation and a snow-removal plan developed following a blizzard in 1982 with improving city response to the storm.

"I believe the lesson was learned 21 years ago," he said. "After that, the city came up with a priority list of snow removal for specific streets. We've been following that plan ever since. In a matter of a couple days we had the streets open and people could get around."

The cleanup has still strained the snow removal budgets of the three cities, and officials said they will be asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help.

"Our cleanup costs right now, to date, have exceeded the total in both the snow removal budget and our weather contingency fund," Spearfish Public Works Administrator Cheryl Johnson said.

In Deadwood, storm-related costs include damaged buildings. The city has filed insurance claims on four buildings so far, city Finance Director Mary Jo Nelson said.

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