Jerusalem Municipality presents preliminary storm recovery report

Storm resulted in hundreds of millions of shekels in losses; Mayor requests government aid and greater autonomy among transportation and electrical providers in future.

Jerusalem snow plow cleanup 370 (photo credit: Daniel K. Eisenbud)
Jerusalem snow plow cleanup 370
(photo credit: Daniel K. Eisenbud)
Roughly two weeks after the worst winter storm in decades battered the capital, shutting much of it down for nearly a week, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat presented an interim analysis at a meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee Monday.
According to Barkat, the findings conclude that the storm resulted in economic losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Still, the mayor made clear that the municipality utilized all available resources but was severely outmatched by the anomalous blizzard.
The report states that while the storm was initially forecast to drop a moderate 15 centimeters of snow, which the municipality was prepared for, an unexpected 70 centimeters blanketed much of the city, paralyzing all public services and shutting down large swaths of electricity and businesses.
Barkat said the municipality had been forced to focus on three main tasks: saving lives and providing emergency response teams to residents; ensuring food was available; and “returning the city to normal as soon as possible.”
Due to the gravity of the storm, the municipality operated according to a state of emergency, necessitating the cancellation of school and help from the IDF to secure road access to the city and provide additional resources. It opened a number of emergency shelters to care for stranded drivers as well as elderly and vulnerable citizens. With help from approximately 1,500 volunteers and 500 soldiers, some 3,000 blankets, 700 stoves and 3,000 food rations were delivered to the shelters.
The report states that after the storm lifted, over 35,000 tress were found to have been damaged, resulting in fallen limbs scattered throughout the capital. Barkat said the municipality commissioned over 30 teams to operate around the clock to remove dangerous debris. As of Monday, the municipality had removed over 1,300 truckloads of fallen branches.
Meanwhile, the mayor said seven teams had been commissioned to examine all aspects of services to residents, including public transportation, electricity, welfare assistance and overall management and communications during the powerful storm.
The teams will divide their findings into three sections: preparations for the storm, actions taken during the storm, and recovery responses following the storm.
Deeming the storm a “mini-tsunami,” the mayor asked the government to allocate financial aid to cover monetary losses. The report added that the municipality would continue to enhance cooperation with the IDF, police, firefighters and paramedics.
Barkat said the city was also asking Egged, the light rail operator CityPass, Israel Railways and the Israel Electric Corporation to work independently of the municipality in the future to ensure continued operations in a similar scenario.
Noting the significant assistance provided by community volunteers, the report said the municipality would continue to enhance relationships with neighborhood leaders and provide additional educational services and emergency firstaid kits By the numbers, the report stated that the city utilized 110 tractors for snow removal, dispersed 280 tons of salt, delivered 8,000 meals, deployed 900 employees working in two 24-hour shifts, opened 21 emergency shelters, recruited some 2,000 volunteers and summoned 500 soldiers. Additionally, 30 dispatchers answered 75,000 calls from residents and aided 4,000 who were in need of assistance.