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Cavalry coming to gather debris

The small army that will pick up Citrus residents' storm debris begins its mission today. Be ready, Citrus County officials warned, because once they come by your block, they won't swing by again.

Beginning today, Asplundh Environmental Services Inc., a nationally contracted firm with the large orange trucks that have become familiar in Citrus, will begin its march on nearly every county street, picking up residents' curbside piles of fallen branches, fallen trees, torn siding and ruined insulation _ for free.

The Alabama-based contractor already has been working at an alternate landfill that has been set up on Maylen Avenue, where earthmovers and compactors toil in preparation. Among the 30 machines that will be roving around the county, residents can expect to see five trash trucks, which consist of a flatbed and crane, and 10 dump trucks, county spokeswoman Jessica Sanderson said.

The county is predicting that Asplundh will pick up 40,000 cubic yards of debris, which could rival the amount of wreckage the 1993 no-name storm sowed. Officials have set aside about $600,000 to pay the company, which breaks down to about $15 per cubic yard of debris, which is equivalent in size to a washing machine.

Seventy-five percent of the cost is expected to be reimbursed by the federal government, which has given Citrus a disaster declaration that allows the county to receive federal aid. The state will chip in 12.5 percent and Citrus County will have to pay the rest.

While county officials have pledged to pick up debris in every neighborhood _ public or private _ the cost of picking up debris in communities with private roads will not be reimbursed by the federal government, said Jon Myatt, spokesman for the state emergency response team.

To recoup that money, he said, homeowner associations in neighborhoods considered private are supposed to pick up their own debris and then seek assistance or reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If the county picks up the debris there, Myatt said, "the county eats" the bill.

And that's just what the county plans to do, County Administrator Richard Wesch and Commission Chairman Josh Wooten said last week. Wooten, however, was under the impression the county would be reimbursed.

Debris cleanup will start at all four corners of the county, Public Works Director Ken Frink said, meaning an Asplundh truck could swing by your neighborhood as early as Monday and as late as Oct. 3.

"We do want people to be ready," Solid Waste Division Director Susan Metcalfe said. "Every public and private but not gated road in the county will be visited once," she said. "And we're not making appointments, so put (the debris) out near the start."

Homeowners should separate vegetative debris, such as tree limbs, from structural debris, such as siding and roofing, and place them in two separate piles next to their curbs.

Pieces of debris must be cut shorter than 8 feet in length. Debris piles must be on the curb near the street and should not be piled around mailboxes, water metersor fire hydrants; next to fences, cars or telephone poles; or under guide wires since they will be picked up mechanically. Crews will not trample yards to pick up debris.

Normal household garbage, construction debris, appliances and household hazardous waste will not be picked up _ nor will piles that include any of those things.

People can also drop off storm debris at no charge at the county's alternate landfill on Maylen Avenue just north off State Road 44. Maylen is west of County Road 491, and the site is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Although Citrus has not seen a cleanup of this magnitude in more than a decade, Metcalfe said, the already crowded Central Landfill in Lecanto will not overflow from the flood.

Vegetative matter is going to be burned, she said, while other storm debris will go into private construction and demolition landfills in the county.

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