ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Friday will mark five weeks since Hurricane Matthew swept up the east coast of Florida and sent floodwaters surging through St. Augustine, yet cleanup still continues across nation's oldest city.
But the end is in sight, according to Public Works Deputy Director Todd Grant. The city of St. Augustine has asked residents to place all storm debris on their curb by Monday, when contractors will begin their final sweep through the city to collect debris from the storm.
"We have pretty much collected through the majority of the devastated areas close to 60,000 (cubic) yards so far," Grant said. "(We're) reaching the final point."
In total, more than 1,443 truckloads of vegetative and construction debris, in addition to ruined furniture, have been hauled away by city crews and contractors.
One of the hardest-hit areas in the city ,and the first to have storm debris cleaned up, was the Davis Shores neighborhood.
But one of the last neighborhoods to have its debris picked up is Anastasia Lakes, a private subdivision off State Road 312.
Since the Federal Emergency Management Agency has not yet confirmed it will cover the cost of cleanup in that area, Grant said, the City Commission had to vote to move forward with contractors for the area because the debris was causing a safety hazard.
Grant said they feel confident that FEMA will approve the special request, but the process has left Anastasia Lakes neighbors anxiously waiting for piles of debris to finally be picked up.
"This trash has been sitting here," said resident Pete Petersen. "I think we're the last to get picked up. It's pretty much killed all the grass underneath all of this, so we'll have to do something about that. But it's been a mess."
Peterson said he was relieved to see crews busy working all day Thursday. Public works officials said they anticipated having the Anastasia Lakes subdivision cleaned up by the weekend.
Next week will be the final week that contractors will collect storm-related debris before the city's Solid Waste Division will resume its normal operations. After that, officials said, storm debris will only be picked up during normal scheduled collections and not on a priority basis.
"I need people to understand the piles have to be separated. If they have construction and demolition debris, that needs to be separated from their yard debris," Grant said. "Don't put anything in bags, don't put any hazardous materials out. It needs to be at least as close to the curb as possible. Don't block it with parked cars."
Residents are reminded of several basis rules regarding debris collection that still apply in the final days:
- Place debris curbside: Place debris, unbagged, out of the right-of-way, but within 15 feet of the curb.
- Don’t block access: Parking in front of debris piles prevents access by removal equipment.
- Separate debris: Make separate piles for vegetative debris, construction and demolition debris, discarded household furniture, and appliances.
- No HAZMAT: Do not place any hazard materials curbside, including chemicals, paint, propane and pesticides.
- No NEW construction debris: Debris from new construction is to be removed by contractors performing work.
For more information or questions, call the Solid Waste Division at 904-825-1049 or visit citystaug.com.
FEMA disaster recovery center to move throughout St. Johns County
With the disaster assistance application deadline for Hurricane Matthew about a month away, a FEMA/State mobile Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will move throughout St. Johns County to provide more locations where residents can get information about state and federal assistance.
The mobile DRC will be located at the Willie Galimore Community Center -- 399 Riberia St., St. Augustine, FL 32084 -- from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
The mobile DRC will move on Wednesday to Crescent Beach Park -- 6930 A1A South St., St. Augustine, FL 32080 -- where it will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, Nov. 19.
DRCs are staffed with representatives from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You can receive help applying for federal disaster assistance, learn about the types of assistance available, learn about the appeals process and obtain updates regarding your application.
Many services offered at DRCs are also available by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. Survivors with questions regarding the application or the appeals process, or who need to register for assistance, may also visit online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
FEMA specialists to offer tips on how to reduce property damage
Do you have questions about how you can reduce damage to your property from future flooding and other natural disasters? FEMA Mitigation specialists may have answers.
You can visit Lowe’s Home Improvement Center -- 1955 U.S. Highway 1 South, St. Augustine, FL 32086 -- from Friday through Tuesday to speak with FEMA mitigation specialists who can answer questions and offer tips on topics such as flood proofing a home, elevating utilities and removing and replacing wet drywall.
FEMA mitigation specialists will be available at the Lowe's in St. Augustine during the following hours:
- Friday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Monday and Tuesday: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This free information is geared to both homeowners and general contractors.
Residents can also contact FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program helpline for help with policy questions, service claims, technical assistance and general information. To speak with a flood insurance specialist, call 800-621-3362.