Last weekend's snowstorm has gone down in history books as the worst in 57 years, and in insurance company records as catastrophe No. 87, but in the account books of the Washington area, there were both winners and losers.
Government workers got a four-day weekend with pay, but thousands of snowbound hourly workers were docked.
Restaurants did little or no business, but supermarkets prospered as some customers hoarded supplies.
Airlines and cabs lost money because they couldn't run, but Metro, which loses money when it operates, made money because its trains and buses didn't.
Bowie race track shut down, costing the State of Maryland an estimated $190,000 in its share of the take, but no horse player in the state lost a cent.
Hardware stores and drug stores sold out of shovels and sand, but Call Carl, which dispatches tow trucks from 12 locations, couldn't get its wreckers unstuck until the snow melted.
In the end, some institutions may almost manage to break even.
School systems closed for as long as a week, and while they spent money plowing snow, repairing burst pipes and boilers and paying mechanical and janitorial workers overtime, they saved money on fuel by lowering thermostats in closed buildings.
It took police and fire departments longer to respond to calls, but fewer crimes and fires occurred.
Hospitals ran short of staff, but hundreds of volunteers showed up to take the place of stranded employes.
Homeowners watched gutters curl like spaghetti under the weight of ice and snow, but those with insurance, or at least the most common policy (Ho-3), discovered that, after absorbing the deductible, the damage from seepage and burst pipes is covered.
In the end, there will clearly be more losers than winners in the snowstorm of 1979, and the biggest of them all will likely be the businessmen whose heavily advertised George Washington's birthday sales were canceled because no one could get to the stores.
The Metropolitan Board of Trade estimated Wednesday that at least $50 million had been lost by the retail trade alone -- some of it forever.
Clothier Ray Wolff, for example, spent $3,500 to advertise a Washington's birthday special that he anticipated would produce sales of more than $20,000 last Monday in his suburban clothing stores.
"Zip," said a disconsolate Wolff as he reviewed the week's receipts. "That's what I took in Monday. Nothing. A complete bust."
The total cost of the snow is impossible to calculate, especially since some citizens' losses -- like the governmental cost of overtime to clean the streets -- are other people's gains -- like the workers who made the overtime.
Even some public costs, like the true price tag for snow removal, are elusive.
State and local highway departments have budget flexibility that permits them to plow and remove snow without regard to cost.
But if the money runs out, other work will suffer. It could mean there will not be enought money to patch the endless potholes that are poking through the melting snow, or even that planned new construction will have to be deferred.
William Shook, district engineer for the Maryland Department of Highways, said, "We are still within the budget for snow removal, but one more snow and we're headed over it."
Don Keith of the Virginia Highway Department said the cost of the snow removal in Northern Virginia won't be known for two months.
"We tried to push the world," Keith said, and as a result, many of the trucks broke down. The cost of repairing them will be felt "all the way into July," he said.
"This one broke the bank," said Vaughn Berkdoll of the Prince George's County Department of Public Works.The county had exceeded its $427,000 snow removal budget before the first flake fell last Sunday, and by Friday morning, the big snow had cost another $600,000, he estimated. By Wednesday, the burden of removing snow from 1,309 miles of county-maintained streets and highways had disabled 28 of 58 vehicles.
In the District, Herb Tucker of the Department of Environmental Services said that because crews worked 12-hour shifts around the clock, "We undoubtedly will have to go to Congress for a supplemental appropriation."
Even if area school systems have to make up the days of instruction missed because of the snow, the extra days are likely to come in warmer weather. when fuel costs are lower.
In Arlington, for example, keeping the buildings closed last week saved about $2,000 a day in heat.
Because teachers and other school employes are paid on a 10-month or 12-month schedule, there will be no additional salary costs in making up the lost days, according to Kenneth Muir of the Montgomery County schools.
Even though the federal government paid its 359,628 civilian employes in the Washington area for not working on Tuesday, "it's difficult to tell" if granting such administrative leave will result in a cost, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
"It's not as if we were manufacturing automobiles and missed a production day," said OPM's Tom Kell. "There is an assumption that the work will get done. It just spills over to another day."
Kell added that a percentage of the daily federal payroll of $30 million in metropolitan Washington will be paid out in overtime for essential personnel -- such as air traffic controllers at Leesburg who were trapped on the job by the snow and couldn't leave until their relief workers got through. He couldn't estimate how much.
The storm came at the beginning of the convention season, forcing cancellation of some large groups, an action that probably will make "the net effect a minus," on the hotel-motel industry, according to Edward M. MacMillan, president of the Hotel Association of Washington.
His own International Inn on Thomas Circle, enjoyed a good Sunday night, with just over 80 percent occupancy, MacMillan said. But because few of his employes could get to work Monday, the 400 guests were trapped in the building without the usual amenities.
A shortage of waiters and waitresses forced MacMillan to "buffet 'em to death. Breakfast buffet, luncheon buffet, dinner buffet," were his orders. Almost no one complained.
Before service returned to normal at midweek, MacMillan said, "We sent towels, soap and a memo to each room asking guests to make their own beds. And they did without complaint."
The 1,200 restaurants in the area "will never get back" the business lost because of the storm, according to Lee Palmer, president of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
Palmer, who owns the Old Club Restaurant in Alexandria, said, "A seat in a restaurant is like a bed in a hotel, if it's empty, the business is gone forever."
Sports and entertainment attractions lost money also, including movie houses, the Kennedy Center and the Capital's hockey team, whose expected attendance for Wednesday night's game against the Detroit Red Wings was down about 5,000, or 40,000.
The storm has been assigned a catastrophe number because insurance claims of more than $1 million were reported. Adjusters estimated that claims totaling $4,975,000 were reported in a seven-state region that included metropolitan Washington.
Ron Vinson, vice president of the southern region of the Insurance Information Institute, said that while the bulk of the damage was reported by homeowners, some businesses would collect under contingent liability or business interruptions riders on their policies.
A survey by States News Service found that nurserymen and plant farm owners suffered damages of $280,000 when 31 greenhouses collapsed under the weight of the snow in Maryland.
Despite the severity of the storm, a number of merchants -- reeling under the loss of their biggest sale day (though not biggest sales day) of the year -- criticized the news media, especially radio stations, for continually advising people to stay at home because of poor driving conditions.
Another common complaint was directed at Metro, particularly for the failure of the rail systems to operate for three days.
Leonard Kolodny, manager of the retail bureau of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, said a number of store owners have asked his office to "investigate the lack of preparedness by the publicly owned bus and rail system. CAPTION: Picture 1, Shoppers huddle under umbrella as they leave Landover Mall yesterday. By Vanessa R. Barnes -- The Washington Post; Picture 2, Clothier Ray Wolff spent $3,500 to advertise his specials, but last Monday, he said, was 'a complete bust.' By Larry Morris -- The Washington Post