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Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

Naticook Road resident Charlie Metz surveys the mess Monday, October 31, 2011, following a storm that dumped heavy wet snow over the weekend, downing trees and knocking out power to much of southern New Hampshire. A utility pole also snapped further down Naticook Road making the section impassible.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Merrimack getting $150,000 to help defray ‘Snowtober’ costs

MERRIMACK – Six months after the October snowstorm leveled much of Merrimack, the town is set to accept $150,000 in federal funds to reimburse the clean-up effort.

The Town Council voted Thursday to accept funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse costs spent during “Snowtober.”

In total, town departments spent about $203,000 to clean up the storm, which dumped more than 2 feet of snow across the region and left thousands of residents without power for several days.

Of that, FEMA will reimburse as much as 75 percent, or $152,000, according to town documents.

“That will be a huge help,” Finlay Rothhaus, the council’s vice chairman, said Monday. “We’ve already spent the money, but it’s always good to get a little something back.”

Of the total town spending, more than half came from the Public Works department, which spent more than $130,000 to remove snow, fallen tree limbs and other debris from Merrimack roadways.

The fire department spent more than $32,000, mostly on personnel who worked during the storm, and the police department spent nearly $16,000, as well.

The town was among the worst hit by the snowstorm.

By arriving so early in the season, the snowstorm could have drained the department’s overtime and plowing accounts, town officials said. But because the rest of the winter remained so mild, they survived the season.

“It really could have been a lot worse,” Rotthaus said.

With the federal money in hand, more assistance still could be on the way. In many declared emergencies, state officials will compensate half of the 25 percent of costs remaining, according to Paul Micali, Merrimack’s finance director. But the town has not yet heard from state on the matter, so they’re prepared to shoulder the remaining costs themselves, Micali said last week.

“We got a good chunk of change. It should help a lot,” Councilor Dan Dwyer said.

“It seems like it’s a fair process,” he said. “The fact that (the money’s) taken from us, in certain ways, and given back for disasters, it’s one of those bureaucratic formulas that seems to work.”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or