Updated Oct 7, 2022 - News

Tracking where Tampa Bay debris goes after a storm

A resident cleans debris in downtown St.Petersburg after Hurricane Ian. Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

So what happens to all those broken-off branches and downed trees?

Tampa's vegetative storm debris is being taken to a lot on Rome Avenue, where it will be ground by a contractor, city representatives told Axios.

  • The ground debris will more than likely be taken to Veransa Florida Organic Solutions in Seffner. It'll then be repurposed by the organic compost and topsoil farm.

Sarasota, Pasco and Pinellas counties are also turning their vegetative storm debris into mulch.

  • Other areas are just starting to collect debris and figure out what to do with it.

St. Petersburg representatives told Axios it is the only city in Pinellas County with a measurable amount of debris. They're using a phased approach for its removal.

  • So far, the city has cleared the streets and worked with Duke Energy to remove trees and debris from power lines.
  • A debris removal and monitoring company started collecting Monday morning, and workers are still mapping out where debris is and where to put it. City representatives said they should be able to share more by tomorrow.

Manatee County contracted with three separate haulers that are now establishing locations to collect the debris, city spokesperson Bill Logan told Axios. Three zones are expected to be operational by Friday.

Polk County started debris pickup with 40 trucks on Monday. The county has also set up three drop-off sites where homeowners can haul their yard waste.

  • After all the debris is collected, county spokesperson Mianne Nelson told Axios, FEMA will reimburse the county for collection labor. After that, a third-party contractor from out of state will clear the sites. Nelson said she wasn't sure where the debris goes from there.

Hillsborough County told Axios all yard waste storm debris will be ground into mulch. The county plans to use the ground debris in its composting operation and to work with haulers to "find beneficial uses" for it.

  • "Some will go to the landfill where it can be used as alternative daily cover, which the county will receive recycling credit for from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection," the county said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add a statement from Hillsborough County.

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