Winter storm costing counties in workers' overtime

 Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported a higher amount of overtime costs.



Last week’s winter storm is costing governments in Richmond and Columbia counties plenty in overtime.

Pam Tucker, director of Columbia County Emergency and Operations Division, said Wednesday there isn’t a definite amount of hours yet, but she was anticipating overtime pay somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000.

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office alone accounted for 969 overtime hours and more than $20,000 in overtime pay.

In Richmond County, 341 sheriff’s employees racked up more than 5,800 overtime hours, or just under $200,000 in pay.

Mie Lucas, diasaster preparedness coordinator for Richmond County, said overtime totals continue to come in from other city departments.

Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said all gun-toting employees, regardless of position or rank, were called in to handle the growing number of issues after the storm dropped nearly one inch of ice on the area.

Police in both counties were extended between directing traffic at intersections with non-working traffic signals, cutting trees and clearing roads, checking on businesses and providing shuttles to and from shelters.

With below freezing temperatures and thousands of residents without electricity, officers responded to “numerous” calls for welfare checks, Chew said.

Reserve officers in both counties, who work as volunteers and are not paid, also helped with the tasks.

“Considering the magnitude of the ice storm and the damage sustained, we are proud of the tremendous work that was performed by our employees,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said. “Everyone pulled together as an extremely cohesive team.”

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