For Hometown News
Gale-force winds across Brevard County led to large spike in yard waste volumes. Waste Management mobilized to remove 1,200 loads of yard waste.
The "no name" storm that smothered Brevard County with up to 14 inches of rain and gale-force winds over the weekend of Oct. 8-9 left the Space Coast wet and anxious for the return of sunshine, but it also left behind a parting gift: yard waste.
Approximately $11.5 million pounds of palm fronds, tree branches and clippings were put out for collection after the storm in front of the 175,000 Brevard residences served by Waste Management.
Waste Management, which employs 280 people and operates 157 collection vehicles in Brevard County, serves 10 Space Coast cities and the unincorporated county areas.
Waste Management crews operated during the storm and returned to work the following Monday to begin collecting the debris from the storm.
"All of us were relieved for our friends and neighbors that the storm caused little or no damage to homes and businesses," Waste Management's Melbourne district manager Mike Lewis said. "But we knew we'd be busy with yard waste after the wind blew as hard as it did."
Additional equipment and manpower mobilized
After assessing the amount of yard waste around the county with Brevard County Solid Waste Department management, Mr. Lewis and Dave Wallace, Waste Management's Cocoa district manager, decided that additional equipment from Waste Management's facilities in Orlando and Vero Beach would be needed, along with help from subcontractors operating heavy collection equipment.
County management also authorized additional equipment to help expedite the recovery.
"Some areas, like Palm Bay, had a relatively minor spike in debris volume," Mr. Wallace said, "while other areas, particularly our beachside communities and Merritt Island, saw more than double the normal volume. It took time to get it all off the ground, but our people were outstanding in their efforts. We are thankful to the elected officials and county and city employees who communicated with us throughout," he said. "They know their areas well and helped us tremendously by identifying areas that were hit particularly hard."
How much is 11.5 million pounds?
Waste Management customers in Brevard County put 11.5 million pounds of yard waste out for collection from Oct. 10 through Oct. 31. How much is that?
It is equivalent in weight to:
. 63 space shuttle orbiters
. 1,150 adult African elephants
. 40 million iPhone 4S cellular phones
Waste Management's recovery effort:
. 280 employees
. 159 vehicles
. 1,100 employee hours
. 1,200 loads to disposal facilities
Yard waste's new life
The 11.5 million pounds of yard waste will all be either recycled or reused, thanks to the efforts of Brevard County's Solid Waste Department.
Most of the waste is chipped into mulch and sold by a county contractor. Some yard waste is chipped by county employees and used as landfill cover, while the remainder is shipped to Polk County where it is used as fuel for Wheelabrator Technology's Ridge Generating Station waste-to-energy plant, which consumes waste wood and tires while providing clean electric energy to almost 29,000 Florida households. Wheelabrator is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Waste Management.
Brevard County residents are asked to contain or bundle yard waste whenever possible, but to keep bundles or individual cuttings or branches to less than 50 pounds each to make collection safer for Waste Management employees. Tree branches should be cut to no more than 4-foot lengths for similar reasons.
Brevard County and municipal code of ordinances require commercial contractors performing residential tree-trimming or yard maintenance to remove the waste themselves and deliver it to a county disposal facility and are prohibited from leaving it out for curbside collection.
Residents can contact Waste Management customer service by phone or email.
Residents in central or south Brevard should call (321) 723-4455, while north Brevard residents should call (321) 636-6894. Questions or comments can be emailed to CentralFloridaService@wm.com.