Those piles of Hurricane Irma debris could be sitting near homes for as long as a couple of months, Pasco County officials have said.
That’s because there’s a shortage of work crews.
Officials hope that residents will be patient, as the county struggles to pull together enough work crews.
Pasco County Utilities, Solid Waste and Resources Recovery Department set the start of debris collection for Sept. 18. But, finding and keeping subcontractors who can do the work is proving difficult.
The problem is, Hurricane Irma took a swing through the entire state, stretching local government resources.
Financially, subcontractors are finding more lucrative contracts in South Florida, where Irma did the most damage. That has made it difficult for Pasco to secure and hold onto subcontractors.
“I’ve got a lot of complaints that we’re not getting anything picked up,” said Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano.
Working with the county’s consultant, Ceres Environmental Services, Pasco had hoped for 16 work crews. By Sept. 25, that number fell to eight. Then, one day later, the county could only count on four crews.
“There’s just not that many resources,” said John Power, the county’s solid waste facilities director. “At the rate we’re going now, we’re talking about a couple of months.”
Even as Pasco works to find its own crews to supplement county efforts, Power said other counties were calling Pasco to ask for manpower.
On Sept. 26, county commissioners approved inter-local agreements to allow Ceres Environmental Services to aid in securing cleanup services for Dade City, San Antonio and the Town of St. Leo.
Similar agreements are possible with New Port Richey and Port Richey.
Zephyrhills is the one city that has been able to do its own debris pickup.
Adding to Pasco’ cleanup task are suspicions that some residents are putting out more than storm debris curbside.
“A lot of people are using it for spring cleaning,” said Power, who said he was also waiting for debris at his home to be picked up.
Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore wasn’t so sure.
“We need to be careful about making determinations,” he said.
The furniture and other goods being tossed onto residents’ piles could be from actual storm damage, he said. “It’s a delicate situation.”
Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles said the county likely will follow with a second county sweep after completing the initial pickups over the next weeks.
Pasco County officials have issued guidelines for debris pickup:
- All debris materials must be brought to the curb or roadside.
- Do not block fire hydrants, mailboxes, electrical boxes or other structures.
- Do not bag debris.
- Contractor generated debris won’t be picked up.
- Refrigerators should be empty, with the doors secured or removed.
Debris must be separated into the following categories:
Furniture: Mattresses; couches, sofas, chairs; dressers; lumber, if not pressure treated; particle board; laminated flooring; dry insulation (if wet, pile with construction); carpet and padding
Construction: Drywall, plasterboard, ceramic tile, concrete, lumber (pressure treated), wet insulation
Vegetation: Tree cuttings (must be no more than 5 feet in length, and all branches must be bundled)
White Goods: Appliances, metal furniture, metal shelving, bicycles, items that are more than 75 percent metal
Hazardous Waste – Delayed Pickup: Any household chemicals; oil, gas, flammables; lawn and garden chemicals; televisions; computer monitors, computer towers (CPUs)
Contractor-generated debris won’t be picked up.
Requests for debris pickup must be submitted to Pasco County Customer Service Center by emailing ">, providing the address where the debris is located.
Residents also can call customer service at (727) 847-2411.
Pasco County now has a map, an interactive tool to track hurricane-related storm debris pickup, available at arcg.is/2wSHdN5.
Yellow boxes on the map indicate the areas in which crews are working.
Published Oct. 4, 2017