Massive debris cleanup underway in Lakeland

- As Hurricane Irma blew through Florida, Lakeland undoubtedly saw some of the strongest winds.

With that, Lakeland has one of the biggest post-storm cleanup jobs.

City officials tell FOX 13 News more than 325,000 cubic yards of storm debris needs to be cleaned up from roadsides and yards. That more than three times as much yard waste as the city of Lakeland collects in a normal year.

"It's a huge job," says Kevin Cook, spokesperson for the City of Lakeland. "Right now we have 35 FEMA crews on the streets, along with ten of our own City of Lakeland crews."

Cook says that number is going to increase.

"By next week we suspect we'll have close to 50 FEMA crews," he explained.

"I think it's a monumental task," Lakeland resident Sean Malley says.

FOX 13 News caught up with Malley just after crews had cleared the debris from his front yard. Cook echoes that same sentiment. Cook says he has been through many hurricanes in Lakeland and has never seen so much debris.

"We have 60 percent more debris on the ground with Hurricane Irma then we had with all three hurricanes combined in 2004," Cook explains.

Crews hope to finish the first round of debris pickup by October 25. City officials say the crews will then do two more rounds to get any additional debris residents may have put out. After all the debris is collected, crews will throw it all into a wood chipper.

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