Piles Of Trees Left After Irma Could Be Around For A While

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — If you’re waiting for the piles of branches and whole trees to be cleared from your area after Hurricane Irma, you could be waiting a while.

Coral Gables, like many municipalities, said it will take weeks to clean up damage from Irma which hit more than a week ago.

Miami has hired more sub contractors since this story aired on CBS4 and now feel they will have trash picked up between 45 and 60 days.

Local leaders are asking for patience on the matter.

“Some of these trees are up to 10 feet wide,” said Peter Iglesias, Coral Gables City Manager for operations and infrastructure. “We’re expecting to pick up over 170,000 cubic yards of debris. It’s going to take time.”

Coral Gables started debris pick-up on Saturday and has an army of about 22 trucks along with 10 crews and contract trucks. They have two large volume grinding and chipping machines and a third one as a backup.

Miami-Dade County expects to pick up about 3 million cubic yards of debris in unincorporated areas and cities that have a contract with them which include: Aventura, Cutler Bay, Doral, Miami Gardens, Miami Lakes, Opa-locka, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest and Sunny Isles Beach.

To put it into perspective, in 2005 Hurricane Wilma left behind about 18 million cubic yards of debris. It took about 60 days, according to Paul Mauriello who is the deputy director of the county’s Solid Waste Management department.

“Although it’s entirely possible for it to take that long, it’s hard to tell right now,” said Mauriello.

Removing tree debris is a job done by local governments and the public works departments who also have help from hired contractors. When it comes to clearing state roads, that’s done by Florida’s Department of Transportation.

But who gets debris cleared out first? They first look at critical and heavy traveled roads like those that are near schools and hospitals. From there, they move on to residential areas.

FEMA – who reimburses governments for part of the cost of removing debris after a disaster – say they branches and trees could end up in landfills, burned or made into mulch.

While there is no set timeline, what is sure is that city workers cannot clear the trees until Florida Power and Light (FPL) clears downed lines in the area.

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