Residents upset over slow Irma debris cleanup process

COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - Although it’s been several weeks since Hurricane Irma came through South Florida, the debris left behind in some neighborhoods have made residents frustrated.

Storm debris has piled up in many places and some homeowners who have piles outside their homes said that the cleanup is taking longer than expected.

Neal Yaffe said the debris has lined his road in Coconut Grove for a month but is thankful that crews have arrived, Wednesday.

“It feels like a long time, but we are so happy that they are here,” he said.

Officials said that more than 60 percent of the job is complete. “We believe, by the end of October, the City of Miami will be totally clean,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.

The City of Coral Gables is on a similar track. “We would like to have the majority of it clean by the end of October,” said the director of Public Works in Coral Gables, John Osgood.

With 80 trucks on the job, officials said the clean sweep is about 85 percent complete. “Our goal is to return Coral Gables to ‘The City Beautiful’ as fast as possible,” Osgood said.

And those who have voiced their concerns are being heard. “I know people feel like they aren’t seeing progress,” said Gayle Love, with the Miami Dade County Solid Waste Department. “I want to assure everyone that we will be there. We will pick up every single trash pile from Hurricane Irma.”

According to officials, Miami-Dade County has collected three times the waste the county usually collects in a whole year. They said they need another 60 to 90 days to get all the cleanup done.

Crews said that piling on old mattresses and stuff from the garage into the debris pile actually slows down the process.

“It’s not easy to do this kind of work in a busy city, but we’re getting it done,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

Fort Lauderdale is planning for three passes through the city. Pass one is almost done. “They are going sunrise to sunset, and they are going seven days a week,” Seiler said.

Residents said that they are ready for things to get back to normal.

“It’s been difficult driving and so forth, getting around all of the debris,” said Kendall resident Claire Donnelly.

Jackson Huggett in Coconut Grove said the debris is a hazard. “It’s just been forever,” he said. “The streets are narrow to begin with.”

The piles also pose a pest problem. “And when we looked up we could see movement,” said Coconut Grove resident Valerie Record.

Turns out a 13-foot python was found hiding in a heap of tree limbs.

The super-sized snake is now gone and those huge stacks of sticks are going away too. Leaders across South Florida are asking for residents to be patient.

If you’d like to track the debris removal and find out if work is happening in your area, check out the debris tracker here.

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