Tampa admits slow debris removal, but promises speed-up

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The city of Tampa admits there have been setbacks in clearing debris after Hurricane Irma.  An estimated 85 percent of residents still have debris which needs to be removed, according to Tampa's Public Works Administrator Brad Baird.

But Baird says more help is on the way.

Baird says it's a major undertaking for the city to gather an estimated 100,000 cubic yards of debris left behind from Hurricane Irma. Crews are bringing it all to a property in the western portion of the city to be dropped off, stacked, and eventually hauled to a landfill.

“Once that second contractor gets going full force, we'll probably have one of the best operations in the state,” said Baird.

Baird said starting Friday, the city will have two contractors working the streets along with city employees to get things cleared.

He says after hiring one company to handle the debris, the city was forced to hire another vendor after some of the first company's trucks were diverted to South Florida

“We were seeing a lot of crews going down south for more money and it was very disappointing seeing crews going down the interstate, bypassing Tampa,” said Baird.

He says all the city’s resources will be in place by week’s end, but it could still possibly be weeks, maybe even months, before all the streets are clear of any remnants of Irma.

“We're working seven days a week and it's 7 a.m. until sunset,” he said. “They just want their debris picked up, which I don't blame them.”