Hurricane Irma debris collection may take weeks in Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Selena Goodrich spent more than five hours with friends this past weekend picking up leaves, twigs and branches dropped on the ground by Hurricane Irma.

The trees around her home are big and beautiful, but she learned during the storm, they can also come with a price.

“Not a lot of fun when the storm comes. It’s a little nerve racking, actually,” said Goodrich.

The leaves and branches in the front of her home are mostly loose, but she also has bags and bags filled with leaves and other smaller debris.

Monday, the city of Tampa tweeted out an infographic advising city residents not to put leaf debris in trash bags for pick up.

“Well, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with them then if we can’t put them into bags,” said Goodrich.

The director of Tampa’s solid waste program says it will all be picked up eventually.

However, private contractors picking up yard debris will only pick up the vegetation and not the yard debris in cans or bags.

Another crew will pick up appliances, furniture and carpet ruined by Irma.

“So, we are asking folks to definitely separate their vegetative debris, limbs, leaves, anything, fallen trees, keep all of that material separate from any other materials, such as couches, sofas, furniture,” said Mark Wilfalk with Tampa’s solid waste program.

The rules in Hillsborough County are different.

The county will not pick up appliances, furniture or electronics damaged by the storm and will only pick up the vegetation.

“Within Hillsborough County, we are only collecting vegetative yard debris at this time, curbside with our contractors. All of your other garbage and recycling should be put out in your regular carts,” said Travis Barnes with Hillsborough County’s solid waste program.

The city and county are asking for one thing that is the same, patience, as it may take four to six weeks before all of the debris from Irma is picked up by contractors.

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