SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – As the start of hurricane season gets closer, so many people in Central Florida are still dealing with damage from last year’s storms.
Preston Haworth said water surrounded his home on the St. John’s River after Hurricane Ian. His family ended up evacuating from the Sanford Farms area by boat.
“Every inch of my house had water touching it,” Haworth said.
Haworth said the storm and months that followed caused so much stress. He is worried for what’s ahead.
“Yeah, I’m concerned, and I’m a native Floridian,” Haworth said. “We’ve been landlords for 30-40 years. I’m selling my rental houses. I don’t want to play anymore.”
What has dried out after Ian and Nicole has left behind a mess that is still visible as you drive through parts of Seminole County eight months later. Some families are living in trailers or RVs in their driveways as they wait for their homes to be repaired.
“There’s been supply chain issues,” Emergency Manager Alan Harris said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, so there could potentially be more debris if their home has not been secured yet.”
Harris spoke in front of city, county, and state partners on Thursday to go over their debris management plan.
“Where we’re going to place debris sites, how we’re going to do collections, how the mapping is going to work, how we’re going to communicate with the public to let them know what’s going on. This is a crucial piece of the pie,” Harris said.
Harris also shared reminders for people who have recently moved to Central Florida to manage their expectations.
“Debris is not going to be picked up in weeks, it is not going to be in the garbage truck,” Harris said. “It will take months to clear the debris.”
Harris pointed out the amount of debris collected after hurricanes Ian and Nicole. He said it took them four months to gather one million cubic yards.
“Basically, it’s 11 Spaceship Earths at EPCOT center,” Harris said. “That’s how much we had to pick up in the county. So, it took us four months to do that.”
Harris said he recently looked at what work needs to be done at his own home ahead of hurricane season, and he is encouraging other homeowners to do the same.
“I looked at limbs, anything that was over the powerlines,” Harris said. “Anything that is over the house, anything that can fall on the house.”
Solid Waste Division Manager Oliver Bond said any last-minute tree trimming will have to be taken to a landfill or other appropriate location if it’s cut down close to a storm hitting. He said material that homeowners clear out now can be put out with regular yard waste if it meets the county’s guidelines.
“That means bundled, trash cans, and small pieces that can be handled by a normal crew,” Bond said.
Seminole County shared the following tips as well:
- Trim trees and shrubs to remove any dead or weak branches that could fall during a storm.
- Regularly clear debris from gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage.
- Follow service provider guidelines for proper yard waste disposal. Unincorporated Seminole County Solid Waste customers should prepare curbside yard waste in bins or bags less than 50 gallons in size or 50 pounds in weight, or in tied bundles less than 4 feet in length.
Full guidelines are available at seminolecountyfl.gov/solidwaste.
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