Why some neighborhoods get hurricane cleanup faster than others

Leaders hope process will be completed month's end

TAMPA, Fla. - More than 60 percent of what Hurricane Irma left behind is still lining our streets at this very moment.

A 15-foot-high pile of debris at a Tampa city lot contains about 40,000 cubic yards of debris.

It has taken more than three weeks to grow that big, because many of the trucks hauling it here hold less than 25 cubic yards of debris.

And city leaders say the wait is especially long for neighborhoods where larger trucks and equipment can't operate.

Small crews in pickup trucks with out of state tags use Bobcats to fill small trailers one pile at a time.

“Too much and too long. I'm still picking it up,” said Rev. H.L. Daniels, who has waited three weeks for the city to pick up debris from his East Tampa neighborhood.

“It has something to do with something. Somebody or something,” he said, trying to understand why some neighborhoods have had debris cleared, while other have not.

“The bottom line is we have to match the equipment to the neighborhood,” said Tampa Public Works Director Brad Baird, who admits some neighborhoods get cleaned up faster than others.

Among those, New Tampa.

“We had two semi trucks up there that are called walking bed trucks they hold a lot of debris. So we were able to park them in a parking lot and get them through those wide streets,” Baird said.

About 60 percent of the city has not had clean up yet.

RELATED: Hurricane Irma debris collection maps allow Tampa Bay Area residents to track progress

Baird says crews started in all four corners in the city, and are working their ways through neighborhoods as fast as they can.

But many of the subcontractors with larger equipment bypassed Tampa and went to other cities, which paid higher reimbursement rates.

“There's only so much equipment and so many people, so much manpower and the whole peninsula of Florida got hit,” said Baird.

Baird says debris cleanup is finally going faster.

“The current production is about 5,000 thousand cubic yards a day. Yesterday was our best day we've had to date,” he said.

Even if it doesn't seem like it to those waiting for service.

Baird says their latest estimates are that the first round of debris removal for the city should be completed by the end of October.

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