Talking trash: What’s going on with garbage and debris pickup?
More than a week without garbage pickup, combined with mass refrigerator-emptying as evacuees return home, has made for some very stinky streets and sidewalks across the city.
As regular trash pickup drags along, the city will begin to remove storm debris today (Sept. 7), Day 9 of the Hurricane Ida aftermath.
Curbside garbage collection resumed on Thursday (Sept. 2), according to city officials. On most city streets, however, trash is still festering.
The city’s contractors, Richard’s Disposal and Metro Service Group, are at about 30% capacity, said Ramsey Green, the city’s deputy CAO for infrastructure, at a press conference on Monday (Sept. 6).
As of Monday, he said, Metro has 12 trucks moving through the streets. “As the public well knows, we were having some problems, in particular with Metro, prestorm,” Green said In a Tuesday update. “We’re not going to let those problems exacerbate over time in the wake of this storm.”
Green also said on Tuesday the city will be contracting for assistance with household waste pickup.
The contractors have at least four times the usual garbage to pick up. “Right now we’re finding that it’s taking an enormous amount of time to pick up the trash,” Green said.
Usually, he said, the trucks haul trash to the landfill after hitting four or five blocks. Now there is so much garbage that a landfill run is necessary after just one block.
“That’s how much is out there. That’s why it’s taking a while,” Green said. “The reason is people are emptying their refrigerators.”
He emphasized that residents need to bag the putrid stuff and put it in the city-issued trash cans, rather than in separate bags on the curb, and leave the trash cans on the curb until they are emptied. The city’s solid waste contractors will only dump the trash cans during these initial passes.
“Put the nastiest of the nasty in the city trash can,” Green said. “It’s starting to smell out there. Let’s try to minimize that smell and keep it in that 95-gallon city trash can.”
It will take some time for sanitation contractors to complete the full, citywide collection cycle, according to the Mayor’s Office. The city has not provided schedule for when the trash will be picked up in individual neighborhoods.
“We are no longer talking about normal service operations,” Green said Tuesday. “So if you have a Thursday pickup or a Friday pickup, just disregard it because we’re picking it up as quickly and as rapidly as we can, given limited staffing limited power.”
In the meantime, recycling collections have been suspended until further notice.
Emergency debris removal services will take three passes through the neighborhoods, Green said. The first will begin Tuesday, Sept. 7.
“This could be a months-long thing,” he said.
Residents need to separate storm debris into three categories:
Construction debris: Building materials, drywall, lumber, carpet, furniture, etc.
Vegetative debris: Logs, leaves, tree branches, plants. Do not bag these items. The city plans to compost organic debris.
Appliances: Doors must be sealed and secured.
The city has issued the following guidelines for putting out storm debris:
• Do not block roadways or place debris near trees, poles, or fire hydrants. :
• Debris must be placed between the sidewalk and the curb for removal by the city or its contractors.
• Avoid placement of storm debris waste under or on top of power lines, near trees, utility poles/boxes, fire hydrants, behind parked cars or on neutral grounds.
• Only debris resulting from Hurricane Ida is eligible for removal by the city’s emergency debris removal contractors.
• Any work done by contractors is ineligible for debris removal services by the city or its contractors.
• Commercial properties and properties serviced by private trash contracts are ineligible to receive bulk waste collection or debris removal services by the city or its contractors.
See here for Hurricane Ida recovery updates.