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Hurricane Ian trashed my yard. What happens to Tampa Bay’s debris?

Different municipalities have their own rules for how to handle everything from twigs to downed trees.
Hillsborough County residents can take their storm debris to drop-off sites, as they did after Hurricane Irma, or wait for crews to retrieve the items from in front of their homes. [Times (2017)]
Hillsborough County residents can take their storm debris to drop-off sites, as they did after Hurricane Irma, or wait for crews to retrieve the items from in front of their homes. [Times (2017)]
Published Oct. 1|Updated Oct. 1

As the winds of Hurricane Ian died down and the sun came out, residents across the Tampa Bay area quickly headed outside to assess their yards.

It didn’t take long for them to start raking, sawing and bagging the debris. But what to do with it all?

The rules depend upon where you live.

Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties sent out advisories Saturday saying that families can begin placing bagged and bundled materials by the roadside for pickup on the routine yard waste days.

Pasco said its haulers will take up to five additional bags per household beyond the usual amount. Hillsborough stuck to its usual 2 cubic yards per pickup.

When it comes to larger items, the rules are more varied.

In unincorporated Pinellas, “for larger debris, property owners need to make their own arrangements for removal,” spokesperson Sydney Criteser said via email.

Residents can take their debris to the Solid Waste facility at 3095 114th Ave N., St. Petersburg, where normal disposal fees will be assessed.

Contractors hired to do the work generally include a removal fee in their charges, the county warned residents, “so, be sure they are licensed and they fulfill their responsibilities.”

Pasco County opened two sites for residents to haul their debris, both at no charge. Those are the West Pasco Resource Recovery Facility at 14606 Hays Road in Spring Hill, and the East Pasco Transfer Station at 9626 Handcart Road in Dade City. Those will be available through Oct. 8.

“Pasco County will not be providing house-to-house collection of storm debris and private haulers will not be collecting yard debris in addition to normal collection service,” the government stated on its website.

Hillsborough County offered the most expansive service.

In addition to resuming its regular yard waste collection on Monday, the county has hired outside contractors to gather large items such as downed trees and branches. The plan is to begin the work on Oct. 6, said Travis Barnes, manager of sustainable materials management for Hillsborough County Solid Waste.

“We have a lot of roadway to cover, and we’ve got to go down every single road,” Barnes said.

To get the items picked up, he said, residents need only to take the debris to the curb, having it cut and stacked to whatever extent possible.

“By no means does it need to be as small as our normal regulations,” he said. “But we don’t go on to private property to pick up. The limiting factor is, what can people do to get it to the front of the yard.”

Hillsborough has opened four residential drop-off sites for yard waste. The locations are 8001 W. Linebaugh Ave. in Tampa, 13000 U.S. 41 in Gibsonton, 6209 County Rd 579 in Seffner and 350 Falkenburg Road, Tampa.

These are open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, until further notice. Residents must bring identification to use the sites, and must empty any bags to avoid them getting caught in mulching equipment.

Barnes stressed that these services are for plant materials only. Items such as broken trampolines or ripped-out fencing are not part of the process, and must be taken to dump sites as usual.

Cities and other municipalities each are responsible for cleanup of their own areas, and might have different rules from the counties.

On Monday, the city of Tampa’s solid waste division will begin picking up all hurricane-related debris, branches or brush placed by the curb either in bundles, piles, or in a container, for no additional charge.

Also Monday, the city of St. Petersburg will begin collecting “green vegetation” debris left on the curb for no additional charge. The city asked that only vegetation be placed by the curb.

“Residents are asked to sort out any normal garbage or other construction materials from the green vegetation,” the city’s website stated, and debris may not be picked up on your first scheduled trash pickup date as “the process will take some time.”

Staff writer Christopher Spata contributed to this story.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Ian coverage

HOW TO HELP: Where to donate or volunteer to help Hurricane Ian victims.

FEMA: Floridians hurt by Ian can now apply for FEMA assistance. Here’s how.

THE STORM HAS PASSED: Now what? Safety tips for returning home.

POST-STORM QUESTIONS: After Hurricane Ian, how to get help with fallen trees, food, damaged shelter.

WEATHER EFFECTS: Hurricane Ian was supposed to slam Tampa Bay head on. What happened?

WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.

SCHOOLS: Will schools reopen quickly after Hurricane Ian passes? It depends.

MORE STORM COVERAGE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

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