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FPL monitoring Irma; Urging residents not to trim trees ahead of hurricane

Posted at 9:25 PM, Sep 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 04:39:08-04

We're all doing what we can to prepare for Hurricane Irma.

But Florida Power & Light and Solid Waste Authority has a big message for residents: Don't trim your trees! It could actually do more harm than good.

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"At this point in the game, trimming trees it's just a little too late for that," said Chris McGrath, a spokesman for FPL.

Any debris left in your yard can be deadly.

"Those tree branches and tree limbs that you cut down unfortunately if they're left behind," said McGrath. "The high winds can pick those branches up and they really become projectiles that not only damage your house, but your power lines as well."

SWA allows for residents to leave six cubic yards of debris out for pick up in front of their home. But if everyone starts trimming at once, that puts a strain on their crews to pick up even more debris, according to SWA spokesman Willie Puz.

"When people really start trimming back for a storm, it can go up to 10 or 20 cubic yards. Our processes in place, with all the trucks and all the manpower, just can't handle that higher volume," said Puz. "What we find with storms is that when residents cut a lot and put that excess debris out there, there is no way for the collection vehicles to pick that up and there's no way for us to process it before the storm comes."

Depending on where Irma makes landfall and should garbage pick up be suspended temporarily, SWA is urging residents to separate their trash into three piles after the storm -- one for vegetation, one for garbage and another for storm debris. They will have trucks out and about to pick up when they can, depending on the storm's affect on South Florida.

"We may not see their yard debris picked up for a week or two after the storm," said Puz.

The agency issued an alert on Tuesday to customers.

Before Irma knocks on your door, FPL wants you to make sure you survey your yard for any standing or loose debris.

"Any thing that could get airborne, whether it's patio furniture any kind of decorations you have on your house, now is the time while we have some time before Irma, to go ahead and take that stuff inside," said McGrath.

If you have one, don't forget about trampolines. You will want to get those secured or disassembled properly for safe storage.

Meantime, FPL is preparing to launch it's storm command center sometime this week as Irma gets closer to the state. They are monitoring the storm 24 hours a day.

"Part of our hurricane response plan calls for repositioning, not only our restoration workers but all of our equipment as well. So that's why we keep a close eye on the forecast track," said McGrath. "The big message for us is to make sure customers are taking the storm seriously and making preparations as well."

Click here to follow FPL's Storm Center website with tips on how to prepare your home or business and a real-time outage tracker map.

Despite Hurricane Harvey bringing power crews from several states to help with storm damage in Texas, FPL says they do have workers and trucks on stand by for Hurricane Irma.

"We were ready to send crews to Texas but we never got that call so as we head into Hurricane Irma all of our workers are right here in Florida," said McGrath.

FPL also has not yet launched any help from other states but crews are on stand by.

"When it comes to mutual assistance, we actually have plans and agreements in place with out-of-state utility workers ahead of hurricane season so that in the event we need to ask for help, we have crews that are on stand-by and ready to respond," said McGrath. "But at this point, it's just too soon to make that call."

Solid Waste Authority is also working with the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center to monitor the storm before they make a decision on any cancelled or delayed garbage pick ups.