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City of Rapid City could pay $3M to clean up after blizzard

RAPID CITY (AP) — The cost of cleaning up Rapid City after an early October blizzard that dumped up to 4 feet of snow in western South Dakota could reach $3 million.

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The city spent $200,000 removing about 2 ½ feet of snow from city streets — draining the 2013 snow removal budget. The city will make supplemental appropriations to cover the cost of snow removal the rest of the year, Mayor Sam Kooiker told KEVN-TV.

There also are costs associated with debris cleanup and staff overtime. Crews have trimmed about 1,700 storm-damaged trees in public right of ways, and the city has hired a contractor to do curbside pickup of brush and limbs from private properties.

"Those efforts are moving along swiftly," Public Works Director Terry Wolterstorff told the Rapid City Journal.

Officials hope to eventually recoup much of the cleanup cost through federal aid. That would require a presidential disaster declaration for the region, to pave the way for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We're hopeful that 85 percent of the storm's cost will be picked up by FEMA, but we're not assured of that," Kooiker said. "And if it's not picked up by FEMA, then the entire $3 million will have to be picked up by the local taxpayers. Will it be a hit? Yes, it will. We do have reserve funds. That's what reserve funds are for. And we're confident that we'll come out strong."