More than 1.1 million cubic yards of vegetative storm debris already collected in Sarasota County, with more than 70,000 cubic yards picked up in city of Sarasota

Contractors turning next to construction and demolition debris produced by Ian

Contractors working in Sarasota County have picked up more than 1.1 million cubic yards of vegetative debris produced by Hurricane Ian, Wendi Crisp, outreach coordinator for the county’s Solid Waste Department, announced during an Oct. 27 press conference at Rothenbach Park in Sarasota.

The grand total, staff reported in an Oct. 27 update, was 1,119,257 cubic yards.

To put that into perspective, Crisp said, the materials are “enough to fill 342 Olympic-size swimming pools.”

On Oct. 26, the City of Sarasota reported that approximately 65% of its residents’ Hurricane Ian storm debris had been collected. In 21 days, a city news release said, crews with the city’s debris hauler, Ceres Environmental Services Inc., had picked up more than 2,400 loads of vegetative debris totaling more than 70,000 cubic yards.

City staff has estimated the amount of storm debris within the city’s boundaries to be twice as much as that produced by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. “In 21 days of collection, crews have collected three times the amount that was picked up after Hurricane Irma over the same number of days,” the city news release pointed out.

In the county, contractors’ employees generally are working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, Crisp said during the Oct. 27 press conference. Each day, she added, they are picking up approximately 60,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris, which they are transporting to specified centers in the county for processing for mulch or agricultural purposes.

“They’re going to work as long as it takes to get everything cleaned up,” Crisp pointed out.

The previous day, on Oct. 26, county staff reported that, since the collections began on Oct. 6, the contractors had just passed the 1-million cubic yards threshold. The total tallied before the end of that day, a news release said, was 1,052,879 cubic yards.

On Oct. 24, the total was 929,320 cubic yards. Four days earlier, the figure stood at 750,598 cubic yards.

“After Hurricane Ian, vegetative debris was estimated to be five times more than the debris from Hurricane Irma,” a county news release noted.

However, during the Oct. 27 press conference, Crisp said that the total amount produced by Ian may be higher than the 1.5 million cubic yards in that initial estimate.

Staff also has continued to point out that anyone wishing to self-haul and self-unload storm debris may do so at the following sites:

  • Rothenbach Park, which is located at 8650 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota.
  • Jackson Road Transfer Station, standing at 250 S. Jackson Road in Venice.

To use a public drop-off site, an individual must show proof of county residency, staff advises.

In neighborhoods where the vegetative debris has been collected, Crisp continued on Oct. 27, the contractors are turning their focus to construction and demolition debris.

C&D debris is considered to be items such as bricks, lumber, siding, gutters, roofing materials and wooden and vinyl fencing, Crisp explained.

That is different from household goods, which include items such as carpets and furniture, she pointed out. The C&D debris should be kept separate from those household items, Crisp added.

Homeowners are welcome to take their own C&D materials to the Central County Landfill, which is located at 4010 Knights Trail Road in Nokomis, she said, but the normal disposal fees will apply.

Further, she noted, hazardous waste items — including paint, chemicals, cleaning supplies and batteries — will not be collected by the contractors. (In the aftermath of Irma, the county did allow such collections.)

Those materials should be disposed of at the Bee Ridge Chemical Collection Center, located at 8750 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or at the Central County Landfill, which is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Further, county updates continue to stress that the burning of any storm debris is prohibited by the Sarasota County Code of Ordinances; burning such materials “can adversely impact the community’s air quality with nuisance conditions,” a news releases explain.

Debris collection vehicles may pick up the various types of materials at residences on different days from the neighborhood’s normal garbage pickup days, county staff also is reminding the public. “You can check the status of your collection zone on the interactive map here,” news releases say. “If your zone appears in blue, contractors are still working in your zone and there is no need to report a missed pickup. If your zone appears in green, it is considered complete for first pass. There will be a second pass.”

Moreover, staff is emphasizing that residents “who did not sustain structural damage to their homes or personal belongings are encouraged not to put out large quantities of bulk items (for examples, furniture and carpets) for curbside collection during the debris recovery efforts. Items that are set out in zones with minimal structural damage impacts from Hurricane Ian will not be collected by the debris contractors. These items will be collected as bulk items by Waste Management and could impact service schedules with regular garbage routes.”

The following are recommendations to facilitate the collection process in neighborhoods:

  • Keep your vegetative storm debris pile and construction and demolition pile separate from your regular trash and yard waste, and away from trees, mailboxes, fire hydrants, water meters, utility lines or other objects that could be damaged during pickup.
  • “Any C&D materials or household goods that are bundled or placed in bags or containers that are less than 4 feet in length and weigh less than 40 pounds are considered properly prepared for curbside collection by Waste Management. These items should be placed separately at the curb away from the storm debris pile.”
  • If other items — such as fences and garbage bags — are mixed in with the vegetative storm debris, or if they are too close in proximity to that debris, the debris contractor may not be able to pick up the storm debris.

Collections on private roads and in manufactured home communities

In advisory issued during the afternoon of Oct. 27, county Media Relations Officer Brianne Grant pointed out that county staff is working to accelerate debris collection along private roadways and in manufactured home communities.

The county has petitioned the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), seeking authorization for that initiative, Grant pointed out.

“FEMA considers industrial parks, golf courses, cemeteries, apartments, condominiums, and manufactured home communities as commercial properties,” Grant explained. Thus, those types of properties generally are ineligible for debris removal because commercial enterprises are expected to retain insurance that covers such work, she added. “FEMA may provide an exception for these areas,” she noted. However, the county must obtain FEMA approval for the work.

County staff “has connected with local, state, and federal representatives to support and lobby for the request to remove debris from private properties,” Grant continued, citing the undertaking as a response to “a critical threat to public, life, safety, and economic recovery” for the community at large.

Sarasota County’s debris recovery operations team already has begun planning “to determine what resources may be requested if FEMA grants the authorization to proceed,” Grant pointed out. “Manufactured home communities will be contacted in advance of a policy decision to expedite the right-of-entry request process,” if FEMA provides its authorization, she wrote.

City of Sarasota storm debris update

In its Oct. 26 update, the City of Sarasota announced that storm-related residential construction and demolition (C&D) debris collections would begin on Monday, Oct. 31.

“Residential fencing is considered construction and demolition materials, not vegetative,” Public Works Director Doug Jeffcoat emphasized in the news release. “Many fences were impacted by the storm. Now is the time to place fencing and other residential C&D debris at your curb for pickup starting Monday.”

One pass is planned for C&D, materials, the release added. Vegetative debris collections will continue, as well, the release noted.

Residents with storm-related household items, including appliances, furniture and electronics, should contact the Solid Waste Division to schedule a bulk waste pickup, the release said. That division may be reached at 941-263-6170.

City staff also is urging the public not to place debris in the street or on top of storm drains and not to mix household waste, bulk waste or recyclables with storm debris.

Moreover, the city news release said, “Do not mingle fresh, green vegetation with storm debris. Recent vegetative material should be properly prepared in a container or bag and placed curbside for yard waste pickup.”

To find out when storm debris collection will take place in a specific City of Sarasota neighborhood, residents may check this link.

Express county permitting offered

In other news related to the hurricane, county staff has announced that the Planning and Development Services Department “is issuing express permits that do not require a technical review for certain storm-related repairs or replacements.”

Since Oct. 3, that update said, “Sarasota County has issued more than 550 express permits for community members. To learn more, click here.”

The Permit Centers are located at 1001 Sarasota Center Blvd. in Sarasota, and within the R.L. Anderson Administration Center, which stands at 4000 S. Tamiami Trail in Venice.

Sarasota County Emergency Services employees assisting in Lee County

On Oct. 21, county staff announced that Sarasota County Emergency Services Department employees had begun working in Lee County to assist with that local government’s recovery operations post-Hurricane Ian.

Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane is serving in the Lee County Emergency Operations Center, and Fire Department Hazardous Materials team members are assisting local agencies in the area of Fort Myers Beach, that county update noted.

The Fire Department team members are “searching areas that were heavily impacted to identify potentially hazardous materials and mitigate issues. As they work their way through the assignment, [those] crews are also stopping to talk to and check on residents who have returned to their homes,” the update added.

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