How to safely clean up all that post-storm debris

Brett Clarkson
Contact ReporterSouth Florida Sun Sentinel

It took about three months to clean up the piles of debris left in South Florida after Hurricane Irma, with the cost surpassing $200 million.

Waste haulers were accused of jacking up their rates and servicing whoever would pay the most, regardless of contractual obligations with local governments.

But individual residents and households also play a role. Officials said Irma’s cleanup efforts were complicated by the fact residents were throwing different types of debris into the same curbside piles, making it difficult for haulers to separate yard waste from other items like fence parts.

After Irma, homeowners were urged to keep vegetative debris separated from fencing and other yard waste, and to keep bagged yard debris separate from the other piles.

More specifically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges households to separate debris into six categories when leaving it out for pickup:

  • Electronics, such as televisions, computers or phones.
  • Large appliances, such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves or dishwashers.
  • Hazardous waste, such as oil, batteries, pesticides, paint or cleaning supplies.
  • Vegetative debris, such as tree branches, leaves or plants.
  • Construction debris, such as drywall, lumber, carpet or furniture.
  • Household garbage, discarded food, paper or packaging.

Source: FEMA

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