The work of picking up thousands of tons of Hurricane Ian debris continues across Lee County as the concept of just how big the storm cleanup effort is becomes more clear.
Ian wiped out Southwest Florida in a matter of hours. Clearing up the chaos created by the mass destruction of homes and businesses will take much longer, even with bigger and more effective equipment, officials said at the county commission’s meeting on Wednesday. said at the meeting.
“I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I didn’t realize how widespread the damage was.”
— Mike Greenwell, Lee County Commissioner, October 26, 2022, on the impact of Hurricane Ian along the Caloosahachee River
“The profile of this debris is dramatically different from anything we’ve experienced in the past, from storms we’ve experienced in the past to the memories of most people who were in the room,” he said. County Manager Roger Dejarré, a decades-long veteran on the front lines, said. Lines in a hurricane dealing with commissioners.
“We have 9 to 10 million cubic yards of debris across the county. We had less than 2 million at Irma,” says Desjarlais. “There is more construction demolition debris than I have ever seen.”
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The federal government pays 100% of the cost of debris removal for the first 60 days, but the federal government requires paper trails to pay millions of dollars in costs, so residents and private truck drivers can’t afford it. There are limits to how much you can even dispose of. site.
There are 108 trucks in Lee County. They allow him to collect 216 loads of debris in unincorporated counties. As pickup procedures and timing evolve, more trucks are likely to be on the road, clearing more debris and being able to handle it faster.
Larger trucks, some of which are contracted to logging companies, are capable of automatic loading and unloading of cargoes unheard of when Irma was raided five years ago.
“We are already making plans to increase these assets as work progresses and consider debris sites we plan to collect,” said Amanda Condomina, county public works operations manager. We already have plans to ramp up to 240 trucks, but that is fluid and can continue as needed.”
how our community has lived
The estimated tonnage of debris created by Hurricane Ian and the amount collected in the Lee community during initial collection efforts are shown below.
- Unincorporated Lee:
- Collected 3.5 million and 1.15 million
- Bonita Springs: 275,000, 135,000 collected
- Cape Coral: 2 million, 589,000 collected
- Estero: 150,000, 80,000 collected
- Fort Myers: 600,000, 320,000 collected
- Fort Myers Beach: 2.5 million, 202,000 collected
- Sanibel: 600,000, 110,000 collected.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday that the state has reached an agreement with FEMA. This is to facilitate the removal of debris from residential areas and from commercial facilities.
DeSantis added that FEMA will use satellite technology, among other things, to more quickly assess damage to homes and businesses.
“This is very important because it allows us to remove the debris as quickly as possible,” DeSantis said. “Then we can rebuild things and get people back to where they were.”
DeSantis said this will allow more rapid removal of vessels and other debris from waterways and private and commercial land in Lee County.
This was followed by an announcement mentioning the creation of Florida’s debris removal program to assist survivors of Hurricane Ian.
This will allow residents to request qualified debris removal, DeSantis said.
As of Wednesday, 869 vehicles and vessels had been identified on private and commercial property.
DeSantis later announced that FEMA’s Direct Housing Program had been approved for affected residents in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, and Lee counties.
The Direct Housing Program provides up to 18 months of assistance for manufactured housing units, non-motorized recreational vehicles, and other ready-to-use housing.
Commissioner Mike Greenwell, who lives and runs businesses in eastern Lee County, said it was important for commissioners and the public to understand how far-reaching Ian’s influence is.
“I drove around the banks of the[Caloosahachie River]. The damage far up the river was overwhelming. Unfortunately, I don’t know if people are aware of it, but we It’s a big county and the damage is 20 miles inland,” said Greenwell. “There is a huge amount of flooding in that river and the piles of debris are unbelievable.
“I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I didn’t realize how widespread the damage is. Thousands of homes are burning down,” Greenwell said.
Joe Hayes, senior project manager at Crowther-GulfJoint Venture, the company responsible for the cleanup, said the company is evaluating the collection’s first pass through the county and preparing for additional passes that will take some time. rice field.
“We will re-assess and start a second pass through the county, and we will have to make multiple passes to complete the debris removal,” Hayes said.
Issues raised by attorneys from two losing bids for hurricane cleanup in Lee County were not raised at the meeting.
Desjarlais said the county has halved the $40-per-mile fee for transporting waste out of state.
The home page of the Lee County website features a debris removal information dashboard space to help residents track when lorries are coming to collect hurricane-related debris.
Tomas Rodriguez of The News-Press staff contributed to this article.