Florida county to pay haulers $1.2M for Hurricane Matthew cleanup

Dive Brief:

  • The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County in Florida has voted to approve close to $1.2 million of "extraordinary services" pay for three haulers that handled extra volume during Hurricane Matthew cleanup efforts last October, as reported by the Palm Beach Post.
  • The volume was 40% higher — about 96,000 cubic yards — than collections during the previous week. Waste Pro will receive $1.18 million, Advanced Disposal will receive $120,000 and Republic Services will receive $17,000. Waste Management didn't experience higher volumes in the areas where it collects.
  • These companies paid their workers overtime and hired subcontractors to complete the work, though at least one board member questioned why haulers from the county's standby list weren't called in.

Dive Insight:

Running an efficient cleanup operation in the aftermath of a natural disaster can be hard no matter how fast crews are working. Palm Beach County didn't immediately receive a federal disaster classification and standby haulers weren't called in because the amount of material seemed manageable, but then it began to pile up as some residents also took advantage of the collections to do yard work.

The vegetative debris created by hurricanes can be easier to collect since it's often more homogenous than the mixed waste created during floods, but capacity is still an issue for some areas. After Matthew, Florida's Brevard County had so much material that it was giving away mulch for free. Matthew also had the unfortunate effect of causing coal ash from a Duke Energy facility to leak into a North Carolina River.

In areas where natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes are a common occurrence, it is important for municipal leaders to have emergency plans in place, including funds in a reserve. This also includes having clear communication between municipal leaders and standby haulers to ensure relationships are intact for when those haulers are needed in the future. 

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