Hurricane Irma Debris Clean Up FAQ

Vegetative Debris Removal Progress and Schedule


  • The RED/PINK is the areas that the debris contractor has completed first pass and/or is currently working in.
  • The YELLOW is the areas that the debris contractor plans to move into within two weeks from today.
  • The BLUE is the areas that have been inspected and found to have no debris. Therefore, the debris contractor will not be going back to these zones.
  • The UNSHADED is the areas that the debris contractor will update each week. These areas are also where the county staff are concentrating our efforts to help with the debris removal. 

Debris Recovery Stats as of Nov. 17

  • Total loads collected: 43,030
  • Average size load: 50 cubic yards
  • Total cubic yards removed: 1,864,259 cubic yards
  • Hours crews are working: 12 hour per day, 7 days per week - dawn to dusk
  • Areas of cities to target: Polk County's hauler, Crowder/Gulf, follows the lead from the individual cities, but are working mainly from the south to the north of Polk.
  • Areas/cities cleared: Haulers are currently working in every city across the county, except the City of Lakeland.
  • When cities are cleared, how are trucks reassigned across the county: The haulers are working from the south moving north across Polk. As first passes of debris collection are completed, trucks are being moved north into other cities while also working within the county areas. The haulers will complete three to four passes or, as directed by the County, to complete to clean-up process.
  • What areas of the cities are you targeting in the coming days: Crowder/Gulf's haulers are moving throughout the county and are constantly picking up debris. For more detailed information on which areas they are targeting next, please refer to the color-coded map above.


Hurricane Irma Debris Clean Up FAQs

How much debris is in the county from Hurricane Irma?

Our initial estimate is about 2 million cubic yards of debris left behind by the storm. To visualize the amount, if condensed, it would cover 125 acres 10 feet high with vegetative debris.

What type of debris is being picked up?

Vegetation, construction and demolition debris (wood, fences, blocks, shingles), carpet and bulky household items

What is the timeline for pick up?

  • Phase 1: It is estimated the pickup of vegetative debris should be complete by late November.
  • Phase 2: This phase will consists of picking up several items, including construction debris, a second sweep of the county for vegetative debris and taking out trees and limbs that pose potential future dangers. Those limbs and trees include those that didn’t block roadways, or cause damage to homes that may have fallen over since the storm. Crews will cut out and remove those. This phase is estimated to last about 30 days.
    By the end of this week, the first phase of clearing vegetative debris should be complete in Fort Meade, Lake Wales and Frostproof.
  • Phase 3: Household appliances like refrigerators, stoves and other large electrical items will be picked up during this third and final phase of pickup. There is not a clear estimated time of pickup for these items since the areas affected with this type of debris are limited.

Who is picking up the debris?

Polk County, with the exception of the City of Lakeland, has contracted with Crowder Gulf to clean up the county’s storm debris. Currently the company has trucks working throughout Polk County picking up yard debris.

Why is it taking so long?

To help expedite the hauling time the county, along with Crowder Gulf, has opened 10 debris dump sites. This eliminates long hauls for trucks, so drivers can get back into the community faster. Two more dump sites are in the works to be set up in the coming days.

Are there size requirements for curbside pickup?

There are no size requirements to place storm debris curbside. Move the debris to the public right-of-way, but do not place it on the roads. Crews will collect and haul the debris away. They will not go onto private property and must be able to reach the debris from the road.

Will the haulers collect from private roads?

Yes, the Polk County Board of County Commissioners voted in September to allow the county’s hauler to remove debris from private roads and gated communities.

Can you haul your debris yourself?

Yes. The disposal fees at the North Central Landfill have been waived through Oct. 18 for those residents wishing to dump their vegetative debris from Hurricane Irma.

To be eligible for the tipping fee waiver program, the following criteria must be met:

  • Personal vehicles (cars/trucks)
  • Trailers not exceeding 8 feet x 16 feet
  • Vegetative debris only (branches, tree trunks, shrubs, etc.)
  • Excludes commercial customers

The county is working on opening four other sites where residents will be able to drop off their vegetative debris on their own. Those sites will be announced at a later date once approval has been given.

Can you burn debris?

Yes. In unincorporated Polk County, you may burn yard waste, which is any vegetative debris such as grass clippings, brush, leaves, tree limbs and palm fronds. The yard waste must fit within an 8-foot diameter pile or in a non-combustible container. The fire must be ignited after 9 a.m. and extinguished one hour before sunset.

Piles larger than 8 feet in diameter need a permit from the Florida Forest Service. It is illegal to burn household garbage, treated lumber, plastics, rubber materials, tires, pesticides, paint and aerosol containers.

Burning should take place at least 25 feet away from your home, wildlands, brush or combustible structures; at least 50 feet away from paved public roads, and at least 150 feet away from other occupied buildings.

Who do residents contact for Debris Contractors Collection schedules/routes?

Contact the Storm Debris Hotline at (863) 451-3357

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