It’s been one month since Hurricane Irma tore her way through Manatee County leaving behind a mess of debris — a mess that crews are still working seven days a week to clean up.
Crews in Manatee County have been picking up storm debris since Sept. 19, left behind by Irma’s winds that reached up to 92 mph.
As of Tuesday, 104,852 cubic yards of debris have been collected in Manatee County. That’s about 8.4 percent of the estimated 1.2 million cubic yards of debris Irma created, public affairs liaison for the Manatee County utilities department Amy Pilson said. It’s an improvement from 5.1 percent on Oct. 4.
Those working to clean up the debris are averaging about 4,300 cubic yards of debris a day, according to Pilson. The county contracted with AshBritt Environmental for debris clean up. Crews are on the streets seven days a week for 12 hours a day working to make a dent in the process.
Pilson said there were 37 trucks working Monday and they are expecting more to come this week.
“The more trucks, the faster the process will go,” Pilson said.
But officials cannot estimate how long it will take to see all the debris cleared away, Pilson explained.
“Because of some of the new initiatives put into place and some of the actions by residents, it might be a little faster,” Pilson said. “It just depends because variables fluctuate every day. It’s too fluid to estimate a completion date.”
The Manatee County utilities department is working to create a map detailing which areas have had their debris collected. It’s expected to be available Wednesday morning but will not detail when pick-up will begin. It can be viewed by visiting mymanatee.org/utilities. Pilson noted that it could take a couple of weeks to get through some sections of neighborhoods.
She encouraged residents not to wait, but to have their debris out and waiting for crews to come by and pick it up.
Waived fees at the landfill will also help cut down on clean-up time, Pilson noted.
Thursday, Manatee County commissioners voted to waive tipping fees at the landfill for three weekends.
Starting Oct. 14, county residents can bring their Irma yard debris to the Lena Road Landfill without tipping fees. The Irma-related yard debris collected at the landfill will be burned.
However, those who do will be asked to dump the waste into a pile since plastic bags cannot be burned.
Commissioners also approved motions to pick up debris along private roads and to use Solid Waste funds to pay weekly pickup contractors to catch up on yard debris.
Manatee County Utilities director Mike Gore has previously said hurricane debris cleanup will cost about $27 million. Officials hope a portion of that will be reimbursed by FEMA.
The city of Bradenton announced Thursday it started collection of residents’ yard and construction debris.
Residents should separate piles for each type of debris and to pile it in the right-of-way area of the street. City of Bradenton Solid Waste trucks also will assist in the collection process.