Hurricane Ian debris cleanup in Polk County could take at least three months

Polk County crews are working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week to clean up the debris left behind by Hurricane Ian, and it still could three to four months to get the job done. 

Since Polk County doesn’t have trucks or manpower to pull off the cleanup by itself, the county has hired outside contractors to help.

"You’re going to see a lot of different trucks and a lot of different names on the sides of their vehicles pitching in to make sure we get this picked up as soon as possible," said Ryan Taylor, the deputy Polk County manager for infrastructure.

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Most crews are starting south of State Road 60, the hardest hit area, and working their way north.

Taylor said crews will make three, maybe four passes over the next few months. First, they pick up the big stuff, like trees and brush. In the second round, they’ll pick up bagged debris. In the third, they’ll take construction and related debris. If necessary, crews may make a fourth and final sweep.

Even though Hurricane Ian created half the mess that Hurricane Irma did a few years ago, it is still a big job to haul it all off, Taylor said.

Destruction from Ian is probably going to cost about $20,000, and FEMA is expected to pay the lion’s share.

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If people who live in gated communities or on private roads want their tree debris picked up, they, or their HOA, sign a waiver from the county by calling real estate services at (863) 534-2580, or emailing