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10 Frequently Asked Questions about storm debris collections

1. Who is collecting what?

DRC Emergency Services has been hired by the city for residential storm related debris collection, including vegetative; construction and demolition debris; and household furnishings. Vegetative debris is a priority since removing it makes it easier to get to the remain materials and DRC is using a minimum of 20 truck-trailer units equipped with a “claw” for picking up debris.

The city’s Solid Waste Division has returned to its regular collections of both commercial and residential garbage and recyclables but is also collecting storm debris when possible while maintaining its regular services.

In most every area, residents will see one type of debris being collected before another. Since materials are collected separately, its important not to mix debris

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2. What determines where collections are made each day?

City staff and DRC coordinators determine where to collect based on several factors, including where the most debris is located, is it vegetative only or several types, will removal make it easier for other vehicle to pass through the area, and also simply getting into an area and servicing every street.

Debris will be collected citywide and then a second pass will begin, although areas with the most debris may have multiple collections.

It takes approximately 20 minutes to fill a truck-trailer with vegetative debris. Construction and demolition materials take a little longer. Then the truck makes an hour-long round trip to the disposal area before returning to collecting material.

3. What about disposal of hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste includes, but is not limited to, materials such as chemicals, paint, propane and pesticides. The city nor its contractor are permitted to pickup, transport or dispose of hazardous waste, not just during storm recovery, but at anytime.

Since St. Johns County Solid Waste Management Department has provisions for residents to properly dispose of hazardous waste, questions should be directed there at 904.827.6980 or by visiting www.co.st-johns.fl.us/solidwaste.

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4. What are the separate piles?

There are four main categories for debris:

  • Vegetative: tree stumps, branches, trunks and other leafy material. Only loose vegetative debris will be collected. Do not place storm debris in bags or cans as the crews will not know for certain it is vegetative material.
  • Construction/demolition: lumber, sheetrock, carpet, paneling. if the work is being performed by the resident, such debris may be left curbside, but must be separated from other material. If contractors are performing the work, it is their responsibility remove the debris.
  • Household/furniture: tables, chairs, couches, bookcases. Must be kept separate from other debris, and may be spray painted so as to make it undesirable to scavengers.
  • Electrical appliances/white goods: refrigerators, televisions, stoves, DVD players, radios. White goods and other electrical appliances must be separate from other items since these will likely not be collected until larger debris piles are removed.

Remember, a mixed pile of debris will not be picked up; separated piles are collected first. If debris is mixed curbside, residents will hasten collection by separating the debris.

5. Who collects debris from businesses and commercial properties?

Commercial properties are responsible for removal of their own debris caused by Hurricane Matthew, including construction and demolition materials and discarded furnishings. The city has provided a list of contractors to assist businesses in the removal of debris from their property.

At this time, the city does not have dumpsters or roll-offs available for rent, and businesses must not use their regular trash containers for storm related debris.

Debris not removed from commercial property may be removed by the city as a health hazard and the property owner will be responsible for the cost.

6. Has the city returned to its regular schedule for household garbage and recycling collections?

Yes, on Monday October 17, full regular service schedules were resumed with Monday-Tuesday household garbage collections and Thursday-Friday recycling collections. Wednesday, usually reserved for yard debris, is being used to catch up if behind on regular collections, and collecting storm debris.

Residents should use trash carts as intended, brown for household garbage and green for recyclables, and not to mix either with storm debris.

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7. Shouldn't leaves and small debris be bagged?

No. It is important not to bag debris because vegetative debris cannot be mixed with any other type and, if there is a bag, workers do not know the contents and so will not pick it up.

The reason for not using containers for small debris is because of the way the debris is collected, with a “claw” that grabs whole piles of leaves, limbs, and brush at one time and cannot empty a container.

The city will be picking up bagged vegetative debris when regular yard debris collection resumes. So, to ensure such debris is collected sooner, don’t bag it.

8. Are different crews collecting different debris?

Yes. Since different types of debris cannot be mixed, there are teams dedicated to vegetative debris, and others to construction and demolition debris and still others working on household furnishings. It is likely that residents will see one team pass through their neighborhood and collect only one type of debris and then on another day, a different team will pass though collecting something else.

9. Is there a way I can find out when debris on my street will be collected?

Not specifically since debris collection teams are working simultaneously in several areas of the city so every neighborhood receives services. Also, during the day, as a team completes one area, they are assigned another immediately so collection is non-stop.

10. After debris has been collected, may I put more items curbside for pickup?

Yes - only storm debris. Cleaning out the garage may be tempting, but it over-stresses the collection of cleanup of storm debris and stretches out the time to clean the entire city of legitimate storm debris collection.

Until the the conclusion of storm related collections, there will be continuous passes through the city for the duration of the recovery period. There will be a point at which storm debris collection ends, with that date announced in advance. When over, the Solid Waste will resume picking up materials normally collected on its regular schedule.