Workers for Langston Tree Service work on cutting and removing the tree that fell over in front of the New Physics Building at UF. (José Sanchez/WUFT News)
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After Irma, Debris Pick Up Begins Around North Central Florida

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Parts of North Central Florida started the process of recovering from Hurricane Irma by picking up storm debris around several zones in the region.

Chip Skinner, Gainesville communications officer, said Gainesville is on the evaluation process. Gainesville residents will need to be patient because there will be expected delays in the pick-up process of yard waste, according to Skinner.

There are a few parameters that residents need to follow when throwing out their yard waste.

Yard waste is considered anything that is made by nature and under 5 feet in length, under 6 inches in diameter and under 40 pounds in weight, Skinner said.

Skinner urges that residents do not include constructional material in their waste.

“So, if mother nature didn’t create it, it shouldn’t be in that pile,” he said.

Residents should also be careful about where they place their debris for pick up.

“It shouldn’t be near any utility boxes such as transformers, phone or cable outlets… water meters, mail boxes,” he said. “Because when they come to pick these things up, they could be damaged, especially with larger items.”

The pickup process after Hurricane Hermine in 2016 took about two weeks, but there is no estimate for how long this one will take, Skinner said.

“So, people just need to be patient with us and realize that we are going as fast as we can,” he added.

Gainesville has a contract with Waste Corporation of America, a non-hazardous solid waste company that provides waste collection.

According to a press release from the City of Ocala, Crowder-Gulf, a debris management contractor working with the city, will start the collecting process Monday.

Ocala residents will have to follow certain steps to separate the debris into three groups: electrical implements, vegetative debris and construction debris.

Janine Sikes, University of Florida’s spokesperson, said UF has been working on the recovery process since Monday night.

UF has also notified ticket holders for the game that campus might not be in its pristine shape, she added. “But we will stay on top of the project and certainly hope to get it done in a short period of time,” said Sikes.

According to her, it’s difficult to say how long the cleanup will take.

“There were about 40 trees that were down,” she said. “In addition, there were a number of leaks in structures such as Norman Hall, Beaty Towers,” Sikes said.

Langston Tree Service is helping UF with cutting and removing the tree that fell over in front of the New Physics Building at UF. (WUFT News/Jose Sanchez)

Langston Tree Service is helping UF with cutting and removing the tree that fell over in front of the New Physics Building at UF, she added.

“All of the wood will be re-purposed as mulch or compost or bio-fuel and potentially lumber,” she said. “And then a part of that tree will also remain on campus for some project that will tell the story of this historic tree.”

Gerald Brown, a worker for Langston Tree Service, said the estimated time to finish the cutting and removal processes of the tree will be about two more days.

Sikes said there have been around 90 members of the Grounds Department in the Facilities Services at UF, as well as Gator Good student members, helping with cleanup around the campus.

“They’re trying to certainly focus on the places that are most heavily trafficked by people, and then work their way to other areas,” she said. “And we are estimating that is some 5,000 to 6,000 yards of waste.”

When making the comparison to other damaged regions of Florida like Miami or Naples, Sikes said UF has been “very, very well in the big scheme of things.”

About Jose Sanchez

Reporter for WUFT News.

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