Cleaning Up After Irma

| September 13, 2017

Valdosta officials requests the patience of citizens during the enormous task

VALDOSTA – The City of Valdosta Public Works Department has all hands on deck to pick up the enormous amount of debris that was left behind by Tropical Storm Irma on Sept. 10-11. The city is requesting the patience of citizens as it employs all resources for this daunting task of getting the community cleaned up as quickly and safely as possible.

More than 100 calls for fallen trees and large limbs were received by the city during the recent storm, and the city continues to get these reports after the storm. With about 3,500 scheduled customer pickups daily, Public Works Director Richard Hardy said the overall cleanup could take several weeks to accomplish.

“We ask citizens for their patience as we utilize all of our resources in this endeavor of getting our city’s yard debris—along with our regular household garbage and recyclables—picked up in an efficiently and timely manner,” said Public Works Director Richard Hardy. “We expect it to take 30-45 days to completely clean up the storm debris, utilizing the same number of employees for the double workload.”

Since last year’s encounter with Tropical Storm Hermine, Hardy said the Public Works Department is in a much better position. Hardy has since added one more claw truck, has two vehicles equipped with lights for night work, and has more trained heavy equipment operators. 

In response to Tropical Storm Irma, the Public Works Department is utilizing all four department claw trucks, as well as a backhoe loader that is equipped with a claw from the Engineering Department. Since two of its vehicles are equipped with safety lights for nighttime operations, department personnel are performing night work from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., in addition to utilizing all five vehicles during its extended 12-hour shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nine truck trailers are also being utilized to cross load the debris and take it to the city’s mulching field, which allows the claw trucks to continuously pick up debris.

While the claw trucks will be used for the larger, heavier piles, Public Works will also use its truck trailers to pick up the smaller piles located throughout the city. Citizens who observe the truck trailers passing their homes can be assured that the larger claw trucks will follow at a later time to pick up the bigger piles of debris.

“We appreciate citizens who have diligently cleaned up their properties,” said Hardy. “Their efforts are encouraging, and they are instrumental in the overall city cleanup process. We also remind citizens who hire a private company to cut up trees and limbs that the contractor is responsible for removal and disposal of this debris.”

Hardy provides the following reminders about preparing yard debris for pickup:

  • Place this trash on the curb or city right-of-way, not in the street or gutter.
  • Yard debris pickup operates on a route system. However, due to the storm, the yard debris pickup is off schedule. The workers will complete one day’s route before moving to the next day’s route, treating all customers in a fair and consistent manner.
  • Since most piles are large and require a claw truck, residents should not assume that if they see a crew picking up a small pile with a pitchfork that their larger pile of debris has been overlooked. Crew leaders will determine what resources are needed. Repeated service calls from citizens do not help and only burden limited resources.
  • Yard trash includes plant clippings, tree branches, grass clippings and leaves. Do not mix with garbage, litter or any other storm-related trash with the yard debris. Keep piles of junk separate from storm debris, and do not place yard debris in plastic bags.
  • Fallen trees and limbs left behind by the storm must be cut to the maximum length of 4 feet in length.
  • As a reminder, city ordinance requires that citizens who hire a private contractor for yard service must also require the private contractor to haul off the debris to the landfill.

The City of Valdosta appreciates its residents for their patience and understanding, as city employees tackle the aftermath of this major storm event. For more information, contact the Public Works Department at 229-259-3590.

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