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Debris collection in Lee, Charlotte, Collier nears 6 million cubic yards

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Mike Braun
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WGCU
The amount of construction and demolition and horticultural debris produced by Hurricane Ian in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties so far is just a shade below six million cubic yards. The above construction and demolition debris pile is just one of several at a FEMA contractor collection site across from Coconut Point mall in Estero.

And the debris piles keep growing.

At this point the amount of construction and demolition and horticultural debris produced by Hurricane Ian in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties is just a shade below six million cubic yards. That amount could fill 60,000 pickleball courts — that would be 60,000 spaces measuring 20-feet by 44-feet by 36-inches deep.

Half of that six million total comes from Lee County alone with the county announcing Tuesday morning it had reached 3 million cubic yards of debris collected, just 11 days after the county collected the first 2 million cubic yards.

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Submitted
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Special to WGCU
Official pickleball court

In Lee County, collection of debris wrought by Ian has grown by close to 100,000 cubic yards a day and has taken more than 60,000 truckloads.

A Lee County official said the collection rate from Ian was three times faster than collections after Hurricane Irma when total collections then in 2017 were 1,749,948 cubic yards in 111 days.

Hurricane Ian debris collection crews beat that number on Nov. 1 – only 28 days into collections, Betsy Clayton, communications director for Lee County Government, said via a press release.

Clayton said crews were setting new industry records with daily debris collection totals ranging from 78,000 cubic yards to nearly 100,000 cubic yards. She said there were 133 specialized debris trucks working continuously in Lee County each pulling a trailer that doubles collection capacity.

Hurricane Ian debris presents challenges the county hasn’t experienced after previous storms. In addition to the customary vegetative and structural debris, storm surge and flooding left behind thousands of cubic yards of household furniture, cars, boats and dirty sand.

In a release, Clayton said the county is divided into phases based on the level of debris in each area.

Phase one experienced the most severe impact from Ian and has the most debris. Phase two includes the areas with the second most storm debris followed by phases three and four.

Crews are currently collecting in phases one and two and have cleared debris from 2,744 miles of Lee County roads — more than the distance from Lee County to Los Angeles.

Each neighborhood will receive at minimum a second pass for debris removal, the county's release said. Additional passes will be conducted as warranted, particularly in those neighborhoods that experienced both wind damage and severe flooding.

Residents can track debris collection progress at the county’s debris removal information dashboard https://lee-county-fl-debris-removal-thompsoncs.hub.arcgis.com/.

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Mike Braun
/
WGCU
A Hurricane Ian debris-laden truck heads to the FEMA debris collection site on U.S. 41 in Estero. The amount of construction and demolition and horticultural debris produced by Hurricane Ian in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties so far is just a shade below six million cubic yards. The above construction and demolition debris pile is just one of several at a FEMA contractor collection site across from Coconut Point mall in Estero.

The Lee Board of County Commissioners voted recently to dispose of county storm debris at the Gulf Coast Landfill, which Waste Management reopened as part of the community’s response to Hurricane Ian cleanup.

The landfill, near the intersection of Colonial Boulevard and State Road 82, closed in 2007. It was reopened because its location minimizes travel distance for debris-hauling trucks. Other disposal sites will continue to be used as well.

The landfill is now accepting debris from the debris collection contractor only – not household garbage or horticulture waste – on an emergency basis and won't be taking loads brought in by residents. Waste Management and the county said the landfill could be used for 18 to 24 months.

Waste Management plans to build berms to the west and southeast to create visual buffers and will limit operations to daylight hours to minimize inconvenience to surrounding communities. Landfill-bound traffic will be along major roads, not through neighborhoods.

Gulf Coast Landfill is closer to many of the debris management sites than other disposal options in Hendry and Charlotte counties and use of the site can reduce debris-truck travel time by as much as a third.

Several neighborhood meetings are planned to answer questions for neighboring residents and are planned for 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, and Thursday, Nov. 10.

Estimates of how long the collection of Ian debris in Lee County could last placed it into 2023.

Where does all this debris, once collected, go?

According to CrowderGulf construction debris gets compacted and goes to a landfill, white goods (large electrical goods used domestically such as refrigerators and washing machines, typically white in color) can be recycled once hazardous materials have been removed, and vegetation gets mulched which goes to a number of different end uses, like landfill cover, landscapers, etc.

In Charlotte County, 1,711,061 million cubic yards has been collected via more than 36,000 truck loads.

The Collier County Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Division has removed more than 1.1 million cubic yards of hurricane debris in Naples, Marco Island, Isles of Capri and unincorporated Collier County through more than 22,000 truck loads.

“We are moving mountains to get our community cleaned up," said Division Director Kari Hodgson. Thank you for your patience. If you have not seen us yet, we will be there soon.”

Debris removal efforts are currently taking place in areas where there is an immediate threat to health and safety as well as public streets. At this time, Collier County is awaiting FEMA approval to enter gated communities and private roads with restricted access. Communities may use their own insurance or contractor for debris removal.

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

  • 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

Rules and information

Lee: Residents and business owners who have the ability and desire to self-haul hurricane debris while waiting for roadside pickup can use public drop-off sites. These sites will be for both vegetative and structural debris.

IMG-5693.JPG
Mike Braun
/
WGCU
The amount of construction and demolition and horticultural debris produced by Hurricane Ian in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties so far is just a shade below six million cubic yards. The above construction and demolition debris pile is just one of several at a FEMA contractor collection site across from Coconut Point mall in Estero.

Debris rules and regulations

LEE COUNTY: 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.

For residents: Only storm debris will be accepted and you must be prepared to unload your trucks yourself. Four locations have operating hours 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily until Sunday, due to the end of Daylight Saving Time, when hours at the sites will be adjusted to 7 a.m. to 5:30 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.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY: Debris collection completion by March 2023 in Charlotte

The debris collection dashboard at www.CharlotteCountyFL.gov/debris provides a real-time, street-by-street tally of both vegetative and construction and demolition debris.

Residents may continue to use debris drop-off sites and mini-transfer facilities for both construction and demolition debris and vegetative debris, but not household waste from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Between Oct. 6, when the Mid-County Transfer and Recycling Facility reopened and Wednesday, more than 13,000 loads of debris have been dropped off at the four locations.

Two temporary drop-off locations are.

  • Placida West Boat Ramp, 12560 Placida Road
  • 7000 Florida St., east of Punta Gorda

Mini-transfer facilities locations are:

  • 19765 Kenilworth Blvd. in Port Charlotte
  • 7070 Environmental Way in Englewood

For Hurricane Ian information, call the Charlotte County Emergency Operations Center from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday at 941-833-4000 or 941-743-1320.
Follow Charlotte County Emergency Management’s recovery information at www.charlottecountyfl.gov/em, www.facebook.com/oemcharlottecounty, and www.twitter.com/ccoem.

Charlotte County has also reached an agreement with the Florida Division of Emergency Management to collect Hurricane Ian debris on private and commercial property. FDEM is now accepting applications from private and commercial property owners who would like assistance for the assessment and removal of qualifying debris, including vehicles.

To apply, visit www.IanDebrisCleanup.com or call 850-961-2002. For information, call the Hurricane Ian Debris hotline 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends or email IanDebrisCleanup@em.myflorida.com.

For Hurricane Ian information, call the Charlotte County Call Center from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday at 941-833-4000 or 941-743-1320.

COLLIER COUNTY: Collier County residents are asked to place all Hurricane Irma-related yard debris curbside in the right-of-way as soon as possible. The right-of-way is the area of residential property that extends from the street to the sidewalk, ditch, utility pole or easement.

Do not allow debris to go into drainage swales or driveway culverts since that can create blockages and inhibit drainage. Place storm-related yard waste in a separate pile.

Do not mix yard waste with household trash or construction/demolition debris. Yard waste must be kept in a separate pile. Piles of yard debris mixed with other waste will not be collected. Do NOT put yard waste in bags. Only loose debris will be collected.

Keep vegetative debris (woody burnable debris such as limbs, stumps and shrubbery) separated from construction and demolition debris, as it will be collected separately. Only stumps that are fully extracted and placed on the right-of-way will be collected with the vegetative debris

Do not put household hazardous waste (paints, solvents, etc.) on the right-of-way. Do not mix normal yard waste with storm-related yard waste; only storm-related debris will be collected.

Residents are reminded to be careful of where they place debris piles. Do not stack or lean debris near or on trees, utility poles, or other structures, including fire hydrants, water meters, or backflow prevention devices as that makes removal difficult and could lead to property damage. If you do not have a sidewalk, ditch or utility easement in front of your house, place the debris at the edge of your property before the curb. Avoid blocking the road, driveways, sidewalks, mailboxes, water meters, fire hydrants and utility poles. For more information, call Customer Service at (239) 252-2380.

FDEM: The Florida Division of Emergency Management is offering assistance in debris cleanup following Hurricane Ian. Applications for the Hurricane Ian Debris Removal program are now open for those needing help removing debris from their property or for those needing to report missing property.

Residents can submit an application if they own property in an affected county. FDEM did not clarify which counties qualify as affected counties as of publishing. The program covers vegetative debris, construction and demolition debris, discarded household appliances, electronic waste and hazardous waste like paint and batteries. However, applying does not guarantee automatic approval for debris removal.

In addition to requesting debris removal, vehicles, vessels and other titled property that have gone missing due to Hurricane Ian can be reported as lost. Residents can also report debris or hazardous materials not located on their own property.

According to the program’s website, the state’s debris removal program will be paid for by a combination of insurance, FEMA reimbursement and local and state funds. Residents who receive assistance will have to provide homeowner’s insurance, if they have it, and sign a Right of Entry form. Residents can stay on their property while debris is removed, at a safe distance.

The Division advises if you are removing debris on your own from your property, to follow local guidelines and dispose of debris at approved sites. According to FDEM, there are 311 Debris Management Sites statewide, including 74 in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties. So far, 4,897 miles of state roads have been cleared and 147,652 cubic yards of vegetation debris have been collected.

For more information, visit IanDebrisCleanup.com or call (850) 961-2002.

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