Tampa – Two weeks after Hurricane Irma swept through Tampa Bay, residents are still waiting for storm debris to be picked up.
Tampa residents were quick to clean up the aftermath of Irma. Branches and palm fronds were piled up on the curb. Fallen trees were cut into manageable pieces and piled on the side of the road for pickup.
The company contracted by the City of Tampa to assist with storm debris collection, Ceres Environment, had planned to rent about 30 trucks to add to the five they currently have in use in Tampa. However, those trucks are now headed for South Florida instead.
“The subcontractor received a higher-price offer from another entity in South Florida and did not provide the trucks to Ceres for use in Tampa,” Stanley Bloodworth, the company’s project manager for Tampa, said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. “Ceres is actively seeking additional resources from other subcontractors to fulfill the needs of the city of Tampa.”
The demand for trucks is higher than the supply, and the suppliers are going to whoever is paying the most. Tampa is paying $9.77 per cubic yard to get rid of 300,000 cubic yards of storm debris and South Florida is offering more.
Greg Meyer, a resident in the Palmetto Beach community of Tampa, had a large tree fall on his property and spent four hours cutting it up and moving it to the curb. A week and a half later and the debris is still sitting on his front lawn.
“I know they’re trying their hardest, but I’d like to let my kids play out front again soon,” Meyer said. “It’s just too risky letting them play near a four and half foot pile of debris.”
While the city is reviewing contracts to make sure contractors haven’t violated the law, parks and recreation and sanitation workers are now collecting storm debris. Because of this, parks will take longer to clean up.
Ceres is still working to collect storm debris with the trucks they have in use now, and residents can expect the collection process to take continue well into October.
While residential and commercial garbage collection resumed fairly quickly, recycle and yard waste collection will not resume until Monday, Sept. 25. The city’s Solid Waste Enhanced Environmental Program (S.W.E.E.P.) is suspended until further notice.
Even though regular yard waste collection resumes this week, the excess debris which cannot be bagged will be collected under the storm debris removal program. This program asks residents to follow specific guidelines for putting their debris out for collection.
Residents are being asked to separate their debris by material type: white goods, construction material, vegetative debris and electronics. Vegetative storm debris should not be bagged or placed in containers. Storm debris contractors will be using special machinery to collect debris piles. For these to be collected, they must be placed on the curb.
Citywide storm debris collection service will be taking place seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 27.
Those who would like to get rid of debris sooner can take it to one of Hillsborough County’s three yard waste collection sites. These sites are open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Falkenburg Road – 346 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa 33619
- Northwest County – 8001 W. Linebaugh Ave., Tampa 33625
- South County – 13000 U.S. Highway 41, Gibsonton 33534
To discard nonvegetative waste or debris, residents may drop off at any of the following Community Collection Centers listed below.
- Alderman’s Ford Solid Waste Facility – 9402 County Road 39, Plant City, FL 33567
- Hillsborough Heights Solid Waste Facility – 6209 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584
- Northwest County Solid Waste Facility – 8001 W. Linebaugh Ave., Tampa 33625
- South County Solid Waste Facility – 13000 U.S. Highway 41, Gibsonton, FL 33534
McKay Bay Disposal Facility is also accepting storm debris, located at 112 South 34th St., Tampa 33605.
The facilities listed above require a photo ID to dispose of waste, and McKay Bay requires proof of a city utility customer account as well.