Debris Removal Is Big Job With Big Price

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One big debris pile. That pretty much describes not just South Florida but the entire state after Irma.

In Miami-Dade alone, it’s estimated there are as many as five million cubic yards of debris piled along the streets.

“In one day, Irma brought us, in one event, Irma brought us about, or more actually, than what we would do in a whole year,” said Miami-Dade Public Works spokesperson Frank Calderon.

With statewide demand, debris contractors have jacked up their prices. Some cities who had deals with companies say the companies are no shows, the agreed to prices too low.

Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy issued a blistering statement saying “so long as we can’t pay what the haulers can get elsewhere, they will not show up in Broward.”

He points to Miami-Dade, where the county is paying as much as $15 a cubic yard for contractors to haul debris.

“Miami-Dade County may be screwed for tens of millions of dollars,” Levy said.

If estimates of the amount of debris prove accurate, Miami-Dade could see a $70 million cleanup bill.

The city of Doral has converted its Central Park into a temporary dump site. The city council in emergency session this week increased payments to waste haulers by nearly a hundred percent.  The mayor says it may be unfair of the contractors to delay service to lower-paying communities, but there is a supply and demand factor after Harvey, then Irma.

“With these major catastrophes, those two hurricanes occurring, the going rate was more than doubled,” said Mayor J.C. Bermudez.

After everything else, a sizeable piece of a big cleanup bill might get dumped on local taxpayers. FEMA has said it won’t pay local governments who have agreed to pay exorbitant debris removal rates.

“We do plan to apply for FEMA reimbursement, and we’ll see what that brings,” said Miami-Dade’s Calderon. “We’ll see what they’ll give us.”

Debris removal schedules and procedures will vary city to city, county to county and even among home owners associations. Residents should check the various websites to learn what to expect in their neighborhoods.

More from Gary Nelson
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