Jerusalem mayor: Storm ‘Alexa’ cost city $290 million

‘We expect the government to pass meaningful aid budgets to enable the municipality to overcome the vast economic and infrastructural damage to city,’ says Barkat.

By
January 2, 2014 02:25
1 minute read.
A plow collects snow remaining on Jerusalem’s normally bustling Ben-Yehuda Street December 17, 2013

Jerusalem snow plow cleanup 370. (photo credit: Daniel K. Eisenbud)

Deeming last month’s powerful storm Alexa a “natural disaster,” responsible for approximately $290 million in financial losses, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat beseeched the Knesset Finance Committee Wednesday to aid the city in its recovery.

“The city of Jerusalem experienced a ‘mini-tsunami’ that caused immense damage,” said Barkat at the meeting, before delineating the far-reaching infrastructural damage sustained by the storm.

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The mayor said significant damage to city schools, streets, sidewalks, public buildings, parks, sports facilities, playgrounds, street lighting and vehicles made up the brunt of costs.

He added that the subsequent recovery effort required city workers to toil around the clock to remove tens of thousands of fallen tree limbs.

“The Israeli government must give priority to Jerusalem,” said Barkat. “The storm hit the city and all its inhabitants hard.”

Noting the municipality’s record of assisting other cities throughout the country in times of emergency, Barkat said it was incumbent on the government to mobilize and help allocate the necessary funds to “allow us to return the city to its condition before the storm.”

Asking the ministry to ensure the costs “do not fall on the back of the residents, which would double their suffering,” Barkat said the state must recognize the storm as a “natural disaster.”

While MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) acknowledged the gravity of the storm, he took issue with the city’s preparation for it, as well as what he deemed as its insufficient emergency responses.

“Jerusalem was not well prepared, and it was clear that emergency plans were not properly implemented,” he said during the meeting. “The roads were blocked, citizens were stuck in their homes for days, and were not properly prepared for the harsh conditions that struck the city.”

Rivlin added that due to its pronounced lack of preparation, the onus for the recovery effort should fall on the municipality, which should not be distributing “medals to those who did their jobs.”

“The snow was a holiday for many but a nightmare for the defenseless – including the elderly, the sick and the needy,” he said. “Thanks to excellent work by the police and organizations that recruited thousands of volunteers, there were no casualties.”

It remains unclear if and when the government will provide the funds requested.


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