letter to the editor

Evacuation vs. Debris Removal

by Dr. Larry Murray…….

When the new county Emergency Management Director took office last year, I called to tell him that the county spent way too much time and energy planning hurricane evacuation and not enough was spent on post-hurricane problems, most prominently debris removal.  Looks like my “prediction” has come true.

Monroe County should long ago have designated sites for storing mountains of hurricane debris.  Using the School District property at Marathon Manor is a disaster.  The soil will be contaminated with who knows what and thus problematic for its previously intended use as a track and athletic fields.  If and until the soil is decontaminated, assuming that is possible, the land will be useful only for parking.  The six figure sum that the School District paid for design for  athletic use will just go down the drain.

There is also the issue of who will pay for the decontamination, principally soil removal.  Some think FEMA will do it, but I would not bet on that.  Most likely the expense will fall on the cash-strapped School District.  The net will be a vacant field that could have been used positively.  Poor planning is obvious.

Will the county and the School District learn anything from this experience?

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2 thoughts on “Evacuation vs. Debris Removal

  1. Well said, Dr. Murray. Planning in Monroe County is an oxymoron.

    About as smart as building a sewage treatment plant on the Cudjoe landfill — and then worrying about fouling nearshore waters — and using grinder pumps in a hurricane pump area. UGH!

  2. I don’t think anyone could have planned for Irma. The amount of trash simply had to go someplace. After 30 days still 80 miles of trash. You are correct that the soil will be contaminated and not sure if ever could be used again. Lets just be thankful that the eye did not go in at KW or it would be gone forever with no chance in hell of ever rebuilding. We were down for FF and seen major damage to KW. As a result many did not attend and many places will likely go under because of it. They count on FF and to top it off were hurting for 30 days.. Not sure if it will ever recover. Seen the fire at 717 Duval and can just think what would happened had it broke out while Irma went past. The town could have burned down and property values dropped to half or less..

    Bottom line is just where would you suggest it all go ? It is not just trees and metal as much of it is old frigs that contain freon and oil. Likely be best to burn it off but that could cause even more problems. At best in maybe a year or 2 it can be moved to a safer place but the soil will never recover.

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