Article Courtesy of The Palm
By Kristina Webb
Published May 19, 2018
WELLINGTON — As hurricane season approaches, the village has a plan to make
post-storm debris clean-up a simpler process than after Hurricane Irma by
working with homeowners associations before a storm hits, instead of chasing
down board members in the manic hours after a hurricane.
Irma left a trail of destruction
throughout the Florida peninsula, creating massive amounts
of debris and chaos in each of the state’s 67 counties. Irma
left behind more than 180,000 cubic yards of vegetative
debris in Wellington alone, leading to a two-month-long
cleanup that cost the village about $3.5 million.
In the days after the storm, Wellington scrambled to get an
essential form signed by HOA representatives: a
right-of-entry agreement, which allows village crews and
contractors to enter a gated neighborhood to pick up debris.
The forms are required by the Federal Emergency Management
Agency for Wellington to be reimbursed for the work,
assistant village manager Jim Barnes said.
“We’re trying to get a little bit ahead of the game,” he
said. “Rather than waiting for these events to get here …
let’s go ahead and get one (agreement) that’s
Working with a FEMA attorney, Wellington drafted a form that
covers any storm cleanup from the upcoming hurricane season.
Representatives of 23 of Wellington’s HOAs signed the
agreement at a meeting Tuesday at Wellington’s Community
Center, where they also were able to provide feedback on
debris cleanup and ask hurricane season-related questions.
Alvin Rushin of TAG Grinding helps clean up Hurricane
Irma debris in Wellington on Sept. 27.
“Hopefully this agreement that you’ve signed won’t have
to be activated,” community services director Paulette Edwards told them.
Of the 127 HOAs in Wellington, 25 had signed the agreement as of Wednesday
morning, Edwards said. While that number may seem small, only private, gated
communities are required to sign the forms. The agreement is optional for
non-gated communities, she said.
Those in attendance said signing the form was a no-brainer. Without it,
village debris-removal crews would be unable to enter their neighborhoods,
leaving the HOAs saddled with the cost.
“They (residents) would be out in front of my house with pitchforks,” said
Rich Jerant, board president at Hidden Creek.
Versailles used its parking lot as a debris collection site, where
landscapers already contracted by the community dumped piles picked up from
in front of homes. “You saved us tens of thousands of dollars than if we had
to remove that ourselves,” board president Sal Van Casteren told village
Wellington also took the opportunity to remind the HOAs of some storm season
best practices — including not clearing yard waste right before a hurricane
hits. In the days before Irma, Wellington picked up more yard waste than it
had in the previous six months, Barnes said.
“We were picking up stuff up to the day of the storm,” he said, adding that
village crews were hauling trimmed branches and palm fronds from in front of
homes long after Waste Management pulled its trucks off the road.