Article Courtesy of The Miami
By Linda Robertson
Published November 10, 2017
Whether it’s a stinking pile in Liberty City or a decomposing one in East
Kendall, debris fatigue is wearing on people eight weeks after Hurricane Irma
made a mess of South Florida.
While overtime efforts to remove tons of
debris left over from the Sept. 10 storm are progressing,
public spaces still cluttered with tree limbs and now
crowned with trash have become an unsightly part of the
The stuff has to be collected somewhere to be mulched,
measured, sorted and hauled away, and one staging site in
Liberty City at the Poinciana Industrial Park operated by
Miami-Dade County is particularly problematic because it is
located across the street from the Scott Carver housing
“It’s an enormous dump filled with vegetation, mattresses
and other trash and crawling with snakes, roaches and rats,”
said Elizabeth Tavares of the Miami Workers Center, which is
helping residents present their complaints to the county.
“It’s an environmental hazard that is aggravating cases of
asthma and causing migraines. People are just not feeling
well and have to walk around with facemasks.
September file photo of a staging site where crews
pick up debris from Hurricane Irma in Hialeah.
“We’ve been told it could be here until February.”
The county, which stopped accepting debris at that site at Northwest 75
Street and Northwest 25th Avenue on Wednesday, is burdened with the biggest
job in South Florida: cleaning up 4 million cubic yards of debris, 25
percent higher than its original estimate of 3 million. Still on the
streets: 591,252 cubic yards. At the county’s six staging sites, 136,871
cubic yards of debris have been ground down and removed, leaving 3,271,877
in the piles, where contractors are separating vegetative and non-vegetative
debris. The sites are located in Liberty City, at Opa-Locka Airport West,
Old South Dade Landfill East, West Kendall District Park, Homestead Air
Reserve Park and the 58th Street Landfill.
The county is handling pickup for unincorporated areas and 12 municipalities
(Aventura, Cutler Bay, Doral, Miami Gardens, Miami Lakes, Opa-Locka,
Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, Sunny Isles Beach, South Miami, North Bay Village
“We expect the entire debris removal operation to be completed by January
2018,” said Frank Calderon, communications manager for the county’s
Department of Solid Waste Management.
One pocket that seems to have been forgotten is the 50-home enclave of
Galloway Estates at Snapper Creek near Dadeland. There have been zero
pickups at the gated community, even though the homeowners association
submitted proper paperwork and residents have called for help repeatedly.
“They’ve picked up everything around us, sometimes twice or three times, and
we’ve been totally bypassed,” said Monika Martins. “When we saw the
contractors nearby we were so excited and told them to please come in, but
nothing was done. We tried to hire somebody and he said, ‘It’s too big.’ So
we’re still waiting. We pay the same tax rate as everybody else. When? Why?”
The city of Miami has picked up 87 percent and a total of 652,669 cubic
yards from the streets. About 22 percent of that has been hauled away from
the five staging sites located at Marlins Park, Robert King High Park,
Biscayne Park, the Police Benevolent Association and Virginia Key. Of the
debris collected, 303,360 cubic yards was vegetative material and 349,309
cubic yards was mixed.
In Coral Gables, about 90 percent of the city’s 500 miles of swales has had
the second pass of debris collection. More than 330,000 cubic yards has been
collected at three staging sites equivalent to more than a year and a half
of trash collection. Many trees still need to be righted and 300 stumps need
to be removed.
Miami Beach has finished picking up and removing 160,000 cubic yards of
In North Miami Beach, about 80,000 cubic yards of debris has been cleared
from the streets and about 40,000 remains at the city’s two staging sites.
“We are clean as of three Thursdays ago,” said Assistant City Manager Esmond
Scott. “What’s left to do with the trees is to deal with the hangers,
leaners and stumps. We want to be done by mid-November.”