City and county officials are praising residents for their quick efforts to clean up Hurricane Irma debris from their yards and get it to the curb. Unfortunately, it may be there for a while.
In order to get reimbursed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, local governments must follow guidelines, said Amy Pilson, public affairs liaison for the Manatee County utilities department.
“We are establishing collection sites that are required and are working with our debris contractor to begin to assess the amount of debris to ascertain size and quantity,” Pilson said. “Once the assessment is done, which should be by this weekend, they will bring in trucks and collection will start.”
Debris contractors are separate companies, and Pilson cautioned it may take “weeks” before collection begins.
“Residents need to know that, because we have to follow the guideline process,” she said.
Residents need to separate debris into four different piles:
▪ Organic debris such as leaves and branches
▪ Construction debris, such as building materials damaged by the storm
▪ “White goods,” such as appliances
▪ Normal garbage containers.
Regular garbage will be picked up as normal beginning next week, and the organic debris piles, except for leaves, are not required to be bundled or placed in a container at this time. Sandbags may also be placed in a separate pile for those wishing to dispose of them, but Pilson urged residents to hold on to them until hurricane season concludes at the end of November.
I just want to reiterate that this process is going to take some time.
Amy Pilson, Manatee County Utilities Department public affairs liaison
It’s important to note, Pilson said, that residents do not co-mingle materials, ensuring that the piles remain separated for quicker pickup. Residents also should not place materials on the roadside before documenting the damage and filing for insurance claims. Piles that are placed at roadside will be taken when collection begins.
Spoiled food items can be placed in the regular garbage.
The city of Bradenton has its own sanitation department, but it is the same for city residents as the city awaits arrival of its debris contractors. Public Works director Jim McLellan said his crews could handle the job, but the city would lose reimbursement. And while it may take weeks to collect, it would take city crews months to do the same job.
Residents do have the option of taking the debris to the Manatee County landfill, but they will be charged.
“The main thing is that our staff will not be picking up yard waste of any kind,” McLellan said. “And it’s important to say that materials should be placed near the road and not on the road, which I am starting to see. If we get rain before collection begins, those materials will get washed back into the catch basins, causing added problems.”
Pilson said there is no concern with the landfill being overwhelmed with materials, because the debris contractors have alternative sites for disposal.
“I just want to reiterate that this process is going to take some time,” Pilson said. “We just ask that the residents be patient because we have to work under those FEMA guidelines.”