A major post-Irma problem in Southwest Florida has been, and continues to be limb and tree refuse that Hurricane Irma has left behind.
To expedite the process, public dumping sites have opened. The first two public sites for independent dumping opened this week at sites in Lehigh and Iona. A third opened Thursday at Estero Community Park. The sites are under supervision from Crowder-Gulf contractors to ensure everyone dropping off solid waste are residents of Lee County, even requiring a photo ID to prove residency. The majority of the people bringing refuse to the site are from the immediate areas, though a few have traveled from as far as Bonita to drop off.
So Far, Lee County has recovered approximately 300,000 cubic yards of waste. 970 miles of an estimated 3,800 in county have been cleared. But as the process drags on, residents are using the sites to take matters into their own hands.
“The county may be doing what it needs to, but they have to follow the same rules for work and overtime as anyone else,” said one Buckingham resident at the Lehigh site with a tractor trailers worth of waste. “I’m sure it’s going to be expensive for everyone.”
Irma is estimated to have created three million cubic yards of solid waste in Lee County alone, at an estimated total cost of about $55 million to cleanup. Reimbursement is expected from FEMA, but county officials have said it could take up to five months to complete.
That timeframe is creating frustration for residents as they wait for county contractors to pick up their debris.
“I know it’s a problem everywhere, the storm was a big deal to all of us, but I can’t sit around with this stuff clogging my yard.” one Iona resident said as they unloaded yard debris at the A&W Bulb site.
The county plans to open more sites as needed as early as next week, but its slow going to get everything back in step with the storm having wreaked havoc on so many different systems and regions.
Public Dump Sites
Iona: 14790 A&W Bulb Road
Lehigh Acres: 15191 Homestead Road
Estero: 9200 Corkscrew Palms Boulevard
Live Progress Map: ARCGIS
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