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The hills and heaps of trash and tree limbs lining the front lawns and streets of the City Beautiful should be gone by the end of the month.
Coral Gables announced Tuesday that the city expects to have all debris removed by Monday. Regular bulk trash pickup, suspended after the Sept. 10 hurricane ripped up trees and tore down their branches, will also resume that day.
That will be one less Halloween horror for kids to encounter during trick-or-treating on Tuesday.
The city, like many across Miami-Dade County, experienced delays and complications in picking up debris as weary residents asked for cleared sidewalks and swales.
City staff said they moved as quickly as possible while also attempting to follow federal guidelines so the city could be eventually be reimbursed for the cleanup. Public works director Ed Santamaria also said that clearing larger trees created some massive bunches of branches and limbs.
“Some of the piles can be substantial so you may have localized pockets where you have large vegetative piles,” Santamaria said.
The city has made two passes throughout the Gables to pick up landscape and tree debris, with the second pass starting on Oct. 9. Workers have collected more than 300,000 cubic yards of debris since Irma struck.
Santamaria said for those residents wondering why they weren’t in the initial passes, the issue was the sequencing of the initial pickup.
Crews worked to clear roads and streets first and to haul that debris away. As those piles were cleared, they picked up landscape debris that residents and others put out in the weeks that followed the storm. The final passes should address those areas, according to staff.
And although the city has asked residents to avoid mixing regular trash with landscape debris, the practice is still happening and has caused some delays.
Some commissioners questioned why the city didn’t do bulk pickup along with debris hauling but staff said that it was necessary to clean up the landscape trash in order to meet FEMA guidelines.
“Once we start having normal bulk pickup, FEMA will think we’re back to normal operations,” Santamaria said.
Competition for trash hauling contracts and workers has also affected most cities along with the shortage of crews due to emergency response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma’s impact across Florida.
Most cities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have estimated they’ll have debris cleared by the end of November or December, if not sooner.