One week after Hurricane Matthew leveled historic destruction up the East Coast, there are many who are still dealing with flooding, and many more who will be dealing with the cleanup and rebuilding of their lives for the weeks and months to come.
For folks in the waste business, it many times means having to weather the storm at home and deal with a massive increase in waste flow at work. From vegetative debris to C&D, the amount of waste produced by a storm can be overwhelming. Many WasteWORKS customers were in the path of the storm and we’ve spoken to a few of them about the impacts from the storm.
In Florida, the storm tracking east a matter of 20-30 miles really made a big difference for the counties along the coast. Martin County (on the southeast coast of Florida, wedged between the coast and Lake Okeechobee, and home to the City of Stuart), was certainly luckier than some of the counties to their north. Heidi McNabb, Systems Analyst for the County, reports, “our damage was minimal, thank goodness, due to a jog eastward as the storm passed us. St. Augustine and the Cape got it far worse.” And even with minimal direct impacts, the county has “still seen an increase” in incoming waste, according to McNabb.
Just up the coast in Brevard County, Solid Waste Department Director, Euripides Rodriguez, reports that “the debris generated (in the county) is estimated to be about 300,000 cubic yards”. Brevard County was expected to take a direct hit, but also benefitted from Matthew’s jog to the east. Nevertheless, a near miss from a hurricane like Matthew still produced wide spread damage and an increased flow of waste. WasteWIZARD has provided some assistance with the increased traffic. “Brevard recently opened a new scale house at the Central Disposal Facility, and one of the upgrades was an unmanned scale. This is helping in a great manner as traffic has probably tripled”, reported Rodriguez.
Further to the north, Jan Bitting from Horry County, SC (Myrtle Beach area) also expressed relief that the storm grazed the county as a Category 1. Bitting reports, “The main damage we are seeing in our area is tree and yard waste material. Right now we have to have two operators at our scales house from 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM. We normally only have one operator and our normal hours are 6:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Even with two operators the traffic is staying 5-10 vehicles deep both coming in and going out constantly all day. We have 24 recycling centers throughout the county that most have been operating without power and have been so busy we have to close them just to keep up”. Unfortunately, like many counties along the coast and inland, the effects of massive flooding will mean continued problems and even more waste in the coming days. “The sad part is that now the local river is going to flood so we are expecting even more damage,” said Bitting.
In Brunswick County, NC (the NC county directly to the north of Horry County), Solid Waste Coordinator, Micky Bozeman, stated the county had “done a lot better than some of the surrounding counties”, but that there was damage and an increase in yard waste, furniture and other flood related materials. They have not had to create any special drop-off areas, but they have begun diverting small loads of yard debris to reduce scale traffic and wait times.
Inland North Carolina has arguably seen, and continues to see, the worst effects of the storm. Wind was certainly part of the problem, but the biggest issue is record flooding, which has been reported in numerous counties in eastern North Carolina. Cumberland County (Fayetteville area) was one of the worst hit and has been included in President Obama’s recent disaster declaration.
Karen Hall, with Cumberland County’s Solid Waste Management Department, has seen “quite a bit of wind damage debris (trees, bushes, etc.), however, most of the debris we are receiving at the Ann Street Landfill is from houses/businesses that were flooded out. Examples: carpet, furniture, clothes, bedding, electronics, food from refrigerators and freezers, since the electricity was out for so long. We have had quite a bit of traffic at Wilkes Treatment & Processing Facility for yard debris & land clearing debris. Ann Street has had an increase in carpeting and furniture so far. We are anticipating an increase in C&D waste once demolishing and rebuilding starts”. The County has special storm debris sites to handle the increased yard debris.
Because many residents are only now starting to get out and about to assess flood damage, they are expecting the waste flow to increase as these residents start cleaning up.