The snowstorm that hit Jerusalem earlier this month could end up costing the city up to 500 million shekels, or $142.7 million, Mayor Nir Barkat said Monday.
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“The big question is, how do you repair the physical damage it caused the city?” asked Barkat in an interview with Haaretz. “The parks, the roads, the trees – how do you bring the city back to its pre-snow state? Every year of wear and tear is equal to about 250 to 300 million shekels. Add to this the damage to educational institutions, which is another 100 million shekels, and you get to 350 to 400 million shekels a year. In my estimate, the storm set us back by at least a year, if not two, and in the public parks even more. So you get into multiples of hundreds of millions of shekels.”
The city’s costs during the snowstorm itself were far lower, running an estimated 20 million to 30 million shekels, said Barkat. An additional 20 million shekels accounts for lost income during the storm, he said, adding that the municipality has not yet prepared a complete estimate.
The city has recruited private work crews and volunteers from the Jewish National Fund to clear the piles of broken trees and branches that are blocking a significant portion of the sidewalks. Barkat declined to say when the clearing would be completed.
For now, he said, the piles of branches are continuing to grow as residents remove the fallen branches from their own properties and put them on the sidewalks for collection. In a statement issued Monday, the municipality urged residents to wait a while before clearing the branches out of their yards.
The city is asking the national government for financial assistance to cover at least part of the cost of the storm. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry, which are currently discussing the matter with municipal officials, have yet to announce whether they will chip in or, if they do, how much of the damage they would cover.