Hurricane Matthew’s financial toll on the city of Jacksonville has reached $2 million and could rise as high as $100 million after the city finishes clearing debris and repairing parks, roads and other infrastructure damaged by the storm, a top official from the mayor’s office told the City Council on Tuesday.
Sam Mousa, chief administrative officer for Mayor Lenny Curry, briefed the council on the storm’s damage and said early estimates put the storm’s total costs anywhere between $25 to $100 million.
After restoring power to 85 percent of residents who lost it and removing nearly all of the fallen trees that blocked roads - the count sits at 633 - the city is now working to clear an estimated 1 million cubic yards of debris.
For those without power. Deadlines missed not acceptable. U made decisions based on expected restoration. I'll get answers.— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) October 12, 2016
The effort will require 250 trucks to travel the county, pick up debris pile by pile, and haul it to temporary sites where it will be grinded up or burned. The first round of pickups will take an estimated 30 days and will carry “significant” costs, Mousa said.
Mousa urged residents to pile debris in front of their properties, as workers are unable to remove debris on private property.
The council also heard from the leader of JEA, Paul McElroy, who told them power has been restored to all but roughly 30,000 customers and that the agency suffered an estimated $30 million in damage. McElroy also told council members that the 72 reported sewage spills onto the ground and in waterways was “unacceptable” and pledged to take steps to prevent that from happening in the future.
While the council praised the mayor’s office response to the storm, several council members criticized JEA for telling customers all outages would be restored by late Monday night - and then missing the deadline.
“You overpromised and undelivered,” said Councilman Matt Schellenberg, who represents Mandarin. “What should I tell my constituents?”
McElroy said the agency was on track to make its deadline, but that workers encountered trees and other obstacles.
“We blew it,” McElroy said.