Solid Waste Authority says 'first pass' of Irma debris cleanup should be complete this week

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - It’s only October, but for exasperated neighbors fed up by post-Irma debris it was like Christmas came early this year.

“It’s nice to have our house looking like the old self again,” says Eri Peguero.

One neighborhood in The Acreage saw debris trucks clear piles that had not only become an eye sore, but also a hazard.

“You couldn’t see,” Peguero says. “When you drive, half the road was taken.”

The Solid Waste Authority says it continues to make inroads on leftover storm debris, with half of the 3 million cubic yards in Palm Beach County cleaned up.

Why does it seem like some areas locally and statewide are being picked up quicker?

SWA says they operate 9 disposal sites in the county they share with several cities.

“Wellington, Boca, Palm Beach Gardens, and Delray have their own debris sites, so they can maybe clean up their communities a little bit faster,” says Willie Puz, a spokesperson for the Solid Waste Authority. 

Across the state of Florida, manpower is lacking because of the rash of natural disasters this year.

“Each of those states and each of those communities are vying for the same debris contractors and the same trucks,” Puz says. 

For comparison, in the aftermath of Wilma in 2005 SWA certified 1000 debris trucks. This year,  only 400.

Puz says it hasn’t slowed down their overall efforts.

“We’re faster almost by 25 to 30 days of those other storms in '04 and '05 in doing a first pass.”

Neighbors say they’re just happy they can enjoy the view again.

“It’s frustrating that it took a long time, but it’s good to see it gone,” Peguero says. 

The next challenge looming for residents lies underneath the piles, as the debris has killed off the grass in many yards.

SWA says it will NOT cover re-sodding for your your lawn.

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