JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville city leaders said the most significant costs from Hurricane Matthew will come from debris removal.
The city has already allocated $550,000 to pick up debris, which will be handled in three phases: cut and toss, debris removal and reduction, and hauling. Mousa said the first phase began at 7 a.m. Saturday after the storm.
"We have removed 633 trees that were blocking roadways," Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa told the City Council a week ago.
The debris collection phase began Oct. 10 with loose vegetative storm debris being collected street-by-street by contracted storm recovery crews.
Officials said they expect it will take up to 30 days to get 95 percent of the debris picked up on a first pass around Duval County. After the initial pass, crews will go around again to pick up any other debris.
Mousa said they believe there are up to 1 million cubic yards of debris on the streets, not including what's in people's backyards. That's enough debris to fill more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The city's goal is to have a total of 250 trucks collecting debris, which will be taken to eight temporary sites around the country.
Crews are first targeting areas with the heaviest debris.
One of the first areas designated for debris pickup is Mandarin, where huge piles of debris were lined up in almost every front yard on Tuesday. The city said it's not going to be an easy or fast cleanup to get all the branches and limbs removed.
"We are beginning in the hardest-hit areas adjacent to the river -- south Mandarin and Arlington. We will work our way from those areas to cover the whole county. They will drive on every road and pick up everything on the curb," Mousa said.
The city said it is still assessing damage and debris removal. Residents are urged to call 904-630-CITY so officials can keep track of where to send Federal Emergency Management Agency assessment crews.
Weekly yard waste collection will continue and will be limited to bags and containers. The five cubic yard limit and other size and weight restrictions remain in effect.
Jacksonville residents are urged to leave loose storm debris at the curb 3 feet away from utility boxes and poles, fire hydrants, mailboxes, etc. There will be no limits on loose storm debris.
It is imperative that loose vegetative debris remains separate from bags, containers and other types of debris, city officials said. Failure to keep debris separated by type may prevent workers from collecting any of it.
Construction and demolition debris should be left at the curb. However, storm recovery crews are currently focused on vegetative as it represents the bulk of what was generated by the storm. There is currently no timeline for the start of C&D collection.
Fencing, landscape timbers, and any other type of unnatural wood should not be co-mingled with vegetative debris.