Delaware still tallying storm damage

DOVER — Although winter storm Jonas gave many Delawareans the chance to relax at home for a few days, 595 DelDOT employees didn’t have that luxury as they worked around the clock before, during and after the storm to keep the roads as clear and safe as possible.

More than 34,510 hours of overtime were worked by DelDOT employees who maintain 89 percent of Delaware’s 13,832.

The workers laid $1 million worth of salt on the roads, cleared roads and sidewalks. Tacking on the cost of fuel for the plows and pay for contracted help, a total of $3,487,030.15 was spent by DelDOT for the single storm that hit central Delaware the afternoon of Jan. 22 and didn’t let up until the early hours of Jan. 24.

But the storm didn’t include only snow, it also brought with it high winds and tides.

“When it comes to the beaches, we are mostly talking about sand loss, not property damage, not even to the boardwalk,” said Tony Pratt, shoreline administrator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

He said sand and dune loss can be seen down the entire Sussex County coast but it may not be a cause for long term concern.

“In the mid-Atlantic, there’s natural robust sand recovery and as we speak, the tides are bringing more and more sand to the shore,” he said.

A large sandbar already has formed just off the coast and will move close enough to shore within the next couple days to actually bring bulldozers onto the beach to push the sand back toward the dunes that were washed away.

It’s difficult to know exactly how much sand was washed away from the storm but crews currently are surveying the coast, something that’s done biannually to acquire hard data not only to report but to compare to the results of past storms and surveys.

If the survey results show substantial sand loss that will not be replaced by the natural process, the beaches may need to resort to beach replenishment — but it’s too soon to know if such measures will need to be taken.

Concerning wetlands like Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges, Mr. Pratt said that DNREC has received positive reports and both seem to have fared well during the storm.

The day after the storm subsided, the Small Business Development Center extended an offer of free services to help businesses impacted by the storm to get up and running again but a week after the storm, no businesses have taken the center up on the offer.

“We might be contacted in the coming weeks. Businesses may be finding out what insurance will cover first,” said Cindy Small, business resiliency coordinator for the Small Business Development Center.

“Also, with summer businesses being closed now, it may take some time for non-resident business owners to get here to check.”

As for Kent County residents, they were asked to report any property damage to the county offices but to date the county has received only one report concerning window damage estimated to be worth $300.

Bayhealth reported patients coming into the emergency department following the storm with snow-related injuries — most commonly from shoveling driveways and sidewalks.

At least one fatality was attributed to the storm. Vernon Alston, 44, collapsed while shoveling snow at his Magnolia home on Jan. 23. He died of a massive heart attack.

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