Update: Truth About Hurricane Irma Debris Pickup: It Will Take Months!





Want to know the truth about all those tree trunks, tree limbs and other debris ripped apart by Hurricane Irma’s winds and now lying in front of homes all over Florida?

Irma left some home owners a Christmas present in the swale.

Because it will be months before all the debris can be picked up, pushing the last debris removal into the Holiday season!

There aren’t enough trucks to cover the 48 counties impacted by the storm.

Hurricane debris contractor Ron Bergeron estimates the state needs 10,000 trucks for the roughly 1,000 Florida communities hit by Irma. Only 3,000 are available statewide to date.

Meanwhile prices for pickups are skyrocketing and Tallahasssee is seemingly doing nothing.

“It’s the wild West out there. Cities are bidding against each other for debris removal,” Bergeron says. “This is a Florida-wide event. Everybody is competing for resources. There are just not enough resources to go around.”



Two weeks after Irma, still waiting for debris pickup in Plantation 


In the end, it is residents who will pay the higher costs.

Bergeron isn’t the only one speaking out.

This from the Palm Beach Post last week:

“Even with nearly 400 trucks rumbling throughout unincorporated Palm Beach County every day, it could take as long as three months to collect all of the vegetation debris left by Hurricane Irma, the county’s Solid Waste Authority said.”

Or the Tampa Bay Times:


“Tampa has an estimated 300,000 cubic yards of storm debris. It is paying $9.77 per cubic yard to get rid of it. And it’s going to take a while.

“‘Probably two months, even with the outside crews we’ve hired,’ Mayor Bob Buckhorn says.”

The City of Plantation admits the problem in a news release:

“The goal of City of Plantation is to complete the debris removal from City roads, public rights-of-ways within ninety (90) days…”

The City of Fort Lauderdale is vague on the completion of debris removal, but reading between the lines indicate it will take quite some time:

“Debris removal will occur systematically throughout the entire City by zones. The first pass to remove separated debris piles is likely to occur in most neighborhoods in the next several weeks. As our neighbors continue recovery, the City recognizes that additional storm-related vegetative debris from backyards, fencing and other repairs may need to be placed at the curb. Up to two additional passes for debris collection may occur until storm related debris is removed…Imagine an average of 30 bathtubs of debris piled in front of every home. Imagine 310 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled to the top with debris. Imagination became reality in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma’s destructive visit to the City.”

Add Florida’s situation to the trucks needed in Houston and parts of Georgia and you can see why the cost of debris removal is skyrocketing and the time line is lengthing.

One reason was the size of Irma. The other is supply and demand.

Crews from out of state are going to the communities that will pay the most, leaving others with little help. Bergeron says that Miami-Dade communities hiked their payments, stealing trucks from Broward. He says trucks slated to pick up in Pembroke Pines are threatening to move to another city in Broward who has agreed to pay more.

Bergeron has called on the state and federal government to get control of the situation, perhaps by enforcing anti-gouging rules.

Let’s see if Gov. Rick Scott steps up and does something about this.




A few hours after the above story was posted, Gov. Rick Scott announced that 400 National Guard members of the Florida National Guard would begin debris removal in the hard hit Florida Keys. Here is the news release (click to enlarge):


15 Responses to “Update: Truth About Hurricane Irma Debris Pickup: It Will Take Months!”

  1. WestDavieResident says:

    $ 9.77 per cubic yard seems like a bargain. Companies in our area are charging private communities $ 39 to $ 45 per cubic yard.

    Homeowners can help the situation by cutting up the small branches and fronds in their yards and putting them in their twice weekly trash pick-up just as many have done for years.

    Then the bigger branches and trunks can get picked up by the bulk services in a more timely fashion.

    And soon the dead leaves will start falling off the remaining branches lightening the loads to eventually be shredded during regular lawn cutting.

    One other observation. Is it just me or do others notice that the bulk of the downed trees were oaks and olives and other leafy trees which Towns and Cities have required builders to plant. Seemed like most of the palms are still standing if not missing a few fronds.

    Bottom line. Be patient. And be safe. We will get through this. It could have been a lot worse with structural damages and more loss of life.

  2. Roy Getzoff says:

    I’ve started to bag as much as possible and when they pick up the trash, I get one bag in at a time. If each resident does this, the clean up would cost half as much.

  3. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    What alot of these cities should be doing is improvize.Meaning all hands on deck.Meaning you get staff members .Admin aides.Clerks.You name it.I love Ft.lau edp. With their comparisons.For example its like 50 bsth tubs or good yr.blumps.100 football fields.Enough debris to fill this stadium etc.I get it its alot.I mean all employees should be pitching in.Cops too.Me id shovel shit if i had to.Open up the dumps.Encourage residents to go to the land fill etc.themselves.Its overwhelming i understand that.It is what it is…

  4. Sam The Sham says:

    They should mandate that 10%,25% or maybe 33% of tree debris be chipped and remain onsite. This would help in a variety of ways.

    Free mulch! Mulch is great for your garden. Even spreading a very thin layer of mulch/tree chips on your grass will add to the soil as it decomposes.

    It would immediately reduce the amount of debris collected and hauled and then dumped into the landfill.

    The tree companies that are out there now are not chipping anything. They are just cutting the trees up and placing at the curb. This means you could utilize idle machinery, hire unskilled or semi skilled labor (properly trained and supervised) and have all the debris gone that much quicker.

  5. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    Well Hurricane Irma.I was in Key West for the storm.First i want to thank Gov.Scott for doing such a great job handling all this.The debris will be picked up.Resident’s that have alot of debris and its causing chaos in your daily life my suggestion is to guzel two shots of Fireball,one pot brownie,wait an hour then get out there and shovel that debris and load it in one of your friends pick up and off to the dump you go.I mean its going to take an extreme effort to remove all this mess.Also to point with this Fema fraud im witnessing(Robert you self employed etc .Oh 16oo.oo bucks and Food stamps.2 months free rent.I hate that as much as i hate a snith(Mary who knew(Mr.)anyhow my take if you were poor and broke before the storm you should be poor and broke after the storm.Its disgusting are poor neighbors in Puerto Rico.Now they derseve and is warranted to 1600.oo hundred and 2 free months and food stamps.I would also like to see a huge amount of resources cops.dpw workers.Nurses etc from our county and city workers flying Over there,like tomorrow…..

  6. Gus Schmidt says:

    In the aftermath of a storm of the magnitude of Irma, it is certainly unreasonable to expect that all debris would be picked up within a few weeks. That said, the issue I see (at least in the city of Fort Lauderdale) is that nowhere on the city’s website has the city posted its plan with respect to debris removal. In the wake of a storm like Irma, most would understand that due to the length of time it would take to finish debris removal, the questions that would be on residents’ minds would be (1) what is the plan? and (2)what is that status of the implementation of that plan? Instead, we get measures of how much debris has been picked up using the Goodyear blimp as a measuring stick (which is a poor measure since I would imagine most have only seen the blimp on TV or flying in the sky, neither of which gives a sense of the actual volume of the aircraft). It’d be more helpful if the plan was made public and regular updates were provided. That’s just common sense (as much as I hate that cliche).

  7. Not for Nothin' But says:

    Bagging a very small amounts of storm debris is inconsequential. Bagging lots of it creates an economic problem we will end up paying either to the carter or the city because of dump fees. It is an act that will inflate your costs. Storm debris disposed of that way is also not FEMA reimbursable. It may get off your lawn faster to bag it, but if everybody does that, it would cost all of us a lot more in trash fees.

  8. Herbert J. Walker says:

    Hasn’t the companies like Bergeron violated their contracts with cities by refusing to p ick up at the price they agreed to? That’s what the Sun-Sentinel says http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/editorials/fl-op-editorial-hurricane-irma-cleanup-20170921-story.html

  9. Not for Nothin' But says:

    Primes to cities like Bergeron had trucks and crews on subcontracts. But they took off to Dade to make more money leaving those cities high and dry. It was not the primes that caused this problem it was the subs looking to make much more per truck load. The price gouging is not at the prime but at the sub contractor level and there need to be rules because that’s no way to do business during an emergency.

  10. Mrs. O'Leary and her cow says:

    I have burned all the debris on my property, it looks beautiful again. I have now been hired by several of my neighbors to torch their tinder.

  11. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    #6 I completely agree with what you present.The city manager in Ft.lau Lee Feldman .Our own version of Hyman Roth(your suppose to make money for your partners Lee.After all Hyman Roth always made money for his partners(residents in his case).Mr.Feldman likes using these irritating analogies.Blimps.To football fields etc.We know Lee its overwhelming the debris.He also irritated the residents where many residents were concerned about The Bahia Mar project.There were concerns about the bldgs. over shadowing the beach etc.He states oh just move your blanket over.Meaning it came across that the concern was trivial,silly etc.As if all that were concerning were just overbearing, pushy residents and that all they did all day is sit in the sun at the beach.In a perfect world Hyman.So i agree with u sir(#6).You got to take care of this debris Mr.Feldman because of your sewer and water mess that u created will surely the nail in your coffin(termination).Your in the big leagues Lee.Making big bucks(a far cry from the 16o g you started out with less than 7 yrs ago.We put you in the big league.Be careful because this up coming mayoral election is all about you…Get that debris picked up Lee.Enough with the blimps.All hands on deck should be the direction you take…..Ps In another unrelated topic Mary who knew(mr).Snitch….

  12. nathan conner says:

    The method of debris removal is all wrong running trucks down the road with 4 twigs in them to a central collection point is inefficient and wastefull most debris should be chipped in place and either hauled to a central area for redistribution or to a land fill. there is equipment that will load and chip much faster than a bobcat can load If any one interested contact me

  13. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Under Mayor Seiler n City Manager Feldman Ft Lauderdale is mostly cleaned up.

  14. MrKneeley says:

    Hey Count – Under Mayor Seiler and City Manager Feldman the City spilled over 20 million gallons of raw sewage into the environment. During the storm a lot more sewage spilled into the streets and waterways.
    “Mostly cleaned up”……is that like picking up a turd by the clean end?

  15. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says: