Hurricane Irma's stench leaves residents holding their noses

What's that smell? It's Irma's aftermath, EPA officials say

By Matt Petrillo - Reporter

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - There's been a stinky stench about Central Florida since Hurricane Irma rolled through. Residents who got a whiff Tuesday morning wanted to know “What is that awful smell?”

The smell is a dirty gift from Irma's aftermath.

"At first I thought it was a sewer smell,” Longwood resident Angela Lee said.

Kelly Charleston, also of Longwood, agreed. It’s bad.

"It smelled like a bathroom, like a dirty bathroom,” Charleston said.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency said what stinks could depend on the location.

For people with homes on streets still lined with debris that needs to be collected the smell could be coming from rotting trees and branches, EPA’s Dave Herbster said.

"That would make sense because it's been here laying out for quite a while," Lee said of all the debris.

For anyone who lives near a body of water that overflowed during Hurricane Irma, which has since receded, the culprit is likely dead fish that washed ashore now rotting on land.

But the worst case scenarios are for communities with septic tanks, like near Shingle Creek in Osceola County, where sewage may have seeped into the creek when it swelled from the storm.

"That wouldn't surprise me. Everyone here's on septic tanks, it's going some place," said resident Scott Kilmer.

The smell is so pungent at Shingle Creek the Osceola County Health Department is testing the creek for possible sewage and other contaminants.  

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