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Lee County announces 1 million cubic yards of debris collected

Piles of Hurricane Ian debris form mountains at a debris-management site along U.S. 41 in south Lee County.
Mike Braun
Piles of Hurricane Ian debris form mountains at a debris-management site along U.S. 41 in south Lee County.

Lee County has so far collected one million cubic yards of debris from Hurricane Ian.

The 20,717 loads of debris collected since clean-up began translates 734,136 cubic yards of vegetation and 285,282 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris as of Monday morning — or what the county compared to roughly 1.1 million kitchen ovens removed from the road right-of-ways in unincorporated Lee County.

During the entire Hurricane Irma cleanup effort in 2017, Lee County removed 1.95 million cubic yards of debris in about four and a half months.

With the current pace, Lee County expects to have removed the same amount of Hurricane Ian debris by the week of November 7. This represents a collection rate 77% faster than collections after Hurricane Irma.

Roughly 25 percent of the estimated 4 million cubic yards that had been sitting curbside has already been collected. Due to the extensive damage countywide, county staff expect that more debris will be brought to the curb in the coming months.

According to Lee County, there are more than 1,000 people working on debris and waste recovery with about 200 local residents, many who lost their jobs due to the hurricane, now working as debris monitors.

The county’s contracted waste haulers, Waste Pro and WM (Waste Management), have 285 drivers, assistants, and administrative workers ensuring that regular garbage is pulled from curbs and businesses. Additionally, there are 325 people working in private construction and demolition recycling businesses – all aimed at helping the county recover.

A row of damaged and destroyed appliances of Hurricane Ian debris forms a line at a debris-management site along U.S. 41 in south Lee County.
Mike Braun
A row of damaged and destroyed appliances of Hurricane Ian debris forms a line at a debris-management site along U.S. 41 in south Lee County.

The debris collected to date would fill roughly 122 football fields three feet high. Multiple debris collection passes will continue over the next months.

First-pass collection of Ian debris has been completed in two zones, one just north of Rails End Court, west of McGregor Boulevard and just south of the Midpoint Bridge and another in Lehigh Acres bordered by West 12th and West 18th streets, Williams Avenue and Hickey Creek Canal.

Another 104 zones are in some stage of collection.

First-pass collection on Estero Boulevard in Fort Myers Beach south to Hickory Boulevard in Bonita Springs tackled another kind of debris. The roadway was completely covered in sand that required removal to allow safe passage for vehicle traffic. To date, 69,648 cubic yards of dirty sand has been collected and taken to multiple debris management sites to be screened of debris.

Lee County has been cleaning its beaches in order to receive the newly-screened sand in an effort to begin restoration of the coastline. Currently, around 10 percent of the cleaned sand has been returned to local beaches.

About Storm Debris:

Storm debris is collected separately from household garbage.

Click here to view guidelines so that work crews can quickly and efficiently remove storm debris from your property.

  • Most Important – set storm debris at the curb away from your normal household trash and recycling; it will be collected and documented separately.
  • Place storm debris at the curb in three separate piles: garbage, yard waste and building debris. Federal Emergency Management Agency rules require documentation of the volume and type of debris collected to reimburse the county for storm cleanup.
  • Garbage must be placed in a 40-gallon can or heavy mil plastic bag each weighing no more than 50 pounds. Those who have a larger county-provided container for automated garbage collection may use that as well.
  • Yard waste does not need to be bundled after the storm. Place it in piles that can easily be managed by collection personnel with a claw truck.
  • To expedite collection, do not place anything beneath low-hanging obstacles like trees or power lines or near things like fire hydrants or mail boxes.
  • Food must be removed from any appliance set at the curb. Inedible food should be placed with the garbage.

For private or gated communities

FEMA regulations require that private or gated communities have a current Right of Entry and Indemnification form on file with Lee County before any disaster debris recovery crews are allowed to enter the community. Lee County has an easy, online process for submitting the necessary paperwork.

Forms are available at https://leegis.leegov.com/ROE for communities located within unincorporated Lee County. If you are unsure if your community has a current Right of Entry form on file, please have your community association manager or home-owner association president email solidwaste@leegov.com.

Storm recovery status is updated daily on the county website www.leegov.com. Regular updates can also be found at Lee County Government Facebook.

For solid waste collection questions, email solidwaste@leegov.com .

Related Lee County debris and regular trash collection information:

Household Garbage Collection: Lee County Solid Waste garbage collection has resumed on the normally scheduled day 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 is scheduled to begin the week of October 17.

Storm Debris Collection: Residents and business owners who have the ability and desire to self-haul Hurricane Ian debris while awaiting for roadside pickup can use public drop-off sites. These sites, which will open Monday, 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.

Hurricane Ian C&D Self-Haul Waiver | Hurricane Ian Storm Debris Self-Haul Waiver

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 (only vegetative debris, no C&D)
  • 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

These sites are limited to light-duty trucks and small trailers. No self-loading equipment allowed.
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.

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.

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