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Cleanup of Ian's mess is ongoing, but be sure you know the rules if you are going to drop off debris

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Mike Braun
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WGCU
A growing pile of debris produced by Hurricane Ian sits on land across from Coconut Point Mall in south Lee County. The site is a FEMA-certified debris collection point and not open to residents or businesses. There are other debris drop-off sites in several Southwest Florida counties hit by Ian.

Lets face it, Hurricane Ian left a mess behind. So, what do you do, where do you go and how can you get that mess cleaned up?

Driving by Coconut Point Mall you might be tempted to race home, pill your vehicle up with debris and head back to the vacant land across from the mall where several huge piles of debris, both household and vegetative types, are quickly growing.

Don't. These piles are part of a private FEMA contractor debris removal project and will not take any debris from residents and others.

Barry Lunn, with Crowder Gulf Disaster Management, said he's had to turn several people away who wanted to dep[osit their Ian-related debris at the FEMA site.

"This is a FEMA-certified disaster management site ... it's closed to the public." He added that only certified trucks were being admitted by the FEMA monitors.

But the FEMA-only location isn't the only debris site. Lunn pointed out that most areas in Southwest Florida do have public drop-off sites.

Collection of the debris produced by Ian has started in earnest but there are rules and conditions, many specific depending on where you live.

LEE COUNTY

In Lee County there are five such public drop-off areas. But there are rules.

Residents and business owners who have the ability and desire to self-haul Hurricane Ian debris while awaiting for roadside pickup can use these public drop-off sites. These sites will be for both vegetative and structural debris.

Be prepared to show identification and be a resident of unincorporated Lee County. Accepted forms of ID include driver’s license, utility bill, rental or lease agreement, or local business license. You will be asked to complete a waiver confirming the debris came from your property. Find the waiver at www.leegov.com/storm under Operations/ Solid Waste, or get a waiver on site.

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Mike Braun
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WGCU
Lee County residents can also help expedite cleanup in their neighborhoods by being aware of the following storm debris collection rules: Create separate piles for vegetative debris, construction debris and appliances; Do not bag or put storm debris in containers; The contractor uses large claw trucks, so keep piles away from obstacles such as mailboxes, utility meters or overhead power lines.

For residents –

Only storm debris will be accepted and you must be prepared to unload your trucks yourself. Four locations are open with operating hours 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily.

  • Mosquito Control, 1840 Gunnery Road, Lehigh Acres
  • Brooks Park, 50 South Road, Fort Myers
  • San Carlos Utility Site, 18078 Cypress Point Road, Fort Myers
  • Shell Factory, 2805 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers

For businesses –

Lee County commercial business are encouraged to take their storm debris to the Waste-to-Energy Facility, 10500 Buckingham Road, and will be charged by weight. It will be open regular hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For landscaping companies –

Landscaping companies hauling vegetative storm debris cleared from residential properties will need a signed declaration from the resident indicating the address where the debris was generated. No debris will be accepted without a signed declaration.

More information regarding Hurricane Ian and the location and hours of all public drop-off sites can be found at www.leegov.com.

Normal residential trash pickup has resumed for all routes in Lee County franchise areas that are accessible to collection trucks. This collection is for household garbage only − everyday trash items and all spoiled food. Collection of recycling will resume at a later time.

Lee County residents can also help expedite cleanup in their neighborhoods by being aware of the following:

Storm debris:

  • Create separate piles for vegetative debris, construction debris and appliances.
  • Do not bag or put storm debris in containers.
  • The contractor uses large claw trucks, so keep piles away from obstacles such as mailboxes, utility meters or overhead power lines.

Household garbage:

  • For public health and safety reasons, for the week of Oct. 10 residents are asked to help place wet, rotting garbage at the curb. If you are able, refrain from setting out dry household garbage until the following week.
  • Recycling collection is scheduled to resume the week of Oct. 17.
  • Regular yard waste collection does not yet have a start date.

Important note:

  • The process of collecting both regular garbage and storm debris is expedited if residents use clear bags as much as possible so that the contents are visible to the debris contractor and regular hauler.

Garbage collection information for Pine Island and Fort Myers Beach:

Garbage haulers this week are on Pine Island to collect household garbage and will begin collecting on Fort Myers Beach starting Wednesday.

Because of impacts to the islands from Hurricane Ian, residents may see trash pickup later than their normal collection day. Island residents are asked to leave the trash at the side of the road. For public health and safety reasons, Solid Waste requests residents prioritize setting out kitchen trash and food waste. If able, refrain from setting out dry household garbage until the following week.

If you live on a road that is inaccessible to truck traffic, please bring garbage sealed in plastic bags to the closest accessible point. Crews will handle it from there.

Disaster debris is collected separately from household garbage by a specialized contractor.

More information is available at a newly created landing page, www.leegov.com/hurricane/storm/debris, which includes a link to Lee County’s real-time hurricane debris removal statistics, status update and map.

More information is available at www.leegov.com/storm.

COLLIER COUNTY

Collier County residents have the option to take their hurricane yard debris, free of charge, to four Recycling Drop-Off Centers. These locations are open only to Collier County residents with proper identification. Debris will not be accepted from businesses or contractors.

Locations:

  • Marco Island Recycling Drop-Off Center, 990 Chalmer Drive, Marco Island
  • Naples Airport Recycling Drop-Off Center,2640 Corporate Flight Rd, Naples
  • Tim Nance Collier County Recycling Center, 825 39th Avenue NE, Naples (near the Fairgrounds)
  • Immokalee Transfer Station at 700 Stockade Road, Immokalee

The Recycling Drop-Off Centers are open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Residents can also choose to leave hurricane debris curbside for collection. Hurricane debris should be placed in separate piles of: yard waste, construction and demolition (furniture, carpet), household hazardous waste, electronic waste and appliances. Be patient for collection of these piles and monitor colliercountyfl.gov/hurricaneprep for updates. It will take some time to collect and all areas will have more than one pick up, as needed.

Residents with questions may call Utility Billing and Customer Service at 239-252-2380. Information can also be found at www.colliercountyfl.gov and social media channels including www.facebook.com/CollierGov and www.twitter.com/CollierGov.

Marco Island: Debris collection is being conducted and will continue until all debris is picked up. Please separate storm debris into six categories you can find details here:

https://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/emergency/page/hurricane-debris Once the contractor picks up your vegetative debris, your landscaper is responsible for any additional vegetative debris pick-up. Once a big pile is removed from your yard or swale, each homeowner is responsible for cleaning up smaller pieces left behind. Do not place any debris on vacant lots.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY

Two temporary drop-off locations for storm debris are now open for residential drop-off only, no contractors or businesses:

  • Placida West Boat Ramp, 12560 Placida Road, Placida
  • Florida Street, South County Area, 7000 Florida St. Punta Gorda

The two mini-transfer facilities remain open for storm debris drop-offs:

  • Mid-County Mini-Transfer & Recycling Facility, 19765 Kenilworth Blvd., Port Charlotte
  • West Charlotte Mini-Transfer & Recycling Facility, 7070 Environmental Way, Englewood

All four locations are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Sunday and accept white goods, storm-related yard or vegetation debris, and construction and demolition debris from residential properties.

Due to limited maneuvering space, trailers cannot exceed 12 feet in length at the Mid-County Mini-Transfer & Recycling Facility.

Additionally, Charlotte County Public Works contractors are out in force removing vegetative storm debris. It is the home and business owner’s responsibility to bring the debris to the curb and to properly separate it.

For this post-storm pickup, do not put vegetative debris in bags because it will not be picked up.

Debris that is not properly separated will not be picked up. Residents should separate disaster debris into these six categories and place piles in the public right-of-way, off the road and not on private property:

  • Construction and demolition materials (non-recyclable building construction materials – drywall, asphalt shingles, plastic sinks / tubs, floor tiles, etc.; non-recyclable building contents and personal property – carpeting / rugs, furnishings, clothing, etc.)
  • Electronic Waste - e-waste discarded electrical or electronic devices. Used electronics which are destined for refurbishment, reuse, resale, salvage recycling through material recovery.
  • Household hazardous waste (paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, pesticides, etc.); please be sure these materials are in a secured container and are not leaking in any way.
  • White Goods - large home appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, driers, etc. (please follow the (name of the jurisdiction) guidelines for disposal of refrigerators. Place refrigerators curbside free of putrescent waste.
  • Vegetative materials (trees, limbs, brush, leaves, etc.) Please be advised that debris removal crews WILL NOT, enter onto private property to collect or remove debris.
  • Normal Household Trash - normal household waste, recyclables and bagged debris of any kind will not be collected with your storm debris. Please continue to follow the normal garbage removal schedule.

Please do not attempt to place garbage or other household refuse with the disaster debris, as it will not be accepted, and will delay your storm debris collections

PUNTA GORDA: All yard debris material should be placed in piles in the right-of-way for collection by the debris hauler. Small piles should be placed on larger nearby piles so that they may be collected as large machinery will be used for loading of the piles. Paper yard debris bags can also be used but use the same method of placement as loose material should apply. No yard debris material shall be placed in cans/containers or plastic bags.

SARASOTA COUNTY

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Braun, Michael
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Debris collection zones are being added for vegetative storm debris collection.

To view the most current zone map, visit bit.ly/stormdebrispickupmap.

The landfill site is currently closed to visitors (anyone not disposing of materials) due to ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Ian. Vendors and RC Flyer members will still have access.

Drop-off sites:

  • 2501 Dr. Martin Luther King Way, Sarasota
  • Rothenbach Park
  • 8650 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota
  • Jackson Road Transfer Station
  • 250 S. Jackson Road, Venice

Check with your individual county or community waste collection sites as rules, collection criteria and other aspects of the Ian cleanup can change.
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