With rains coming, concerns rise Irma debris will clog storm drains

Officials ask residents to pack storm debris tightly as they struggle to clear the streets.

Despite heavy rains from Hurricane Irma, areas like South Tampa were mostly spared the usual flooding. But weeks later and with more rain on the way, there's concern debris piles left by Irma will clog the area's culverts and drainage grates.
 
That would leave people who live in South Tampa soaked. 
 
Tampa recently raised stormwater fees and spent well over a million dollars unclogging its sewer system. Now a lot of storm debris could run right back into those same pipes. 
 
"It would be a problem if we had too much of a get into the system," says Tampa's Public Works Director Brad Baird, who is heading up the city's debris removal effort.
 
Progress is slowed, he says, by greedy subcontractors who took their trucks to South Florida, where cities were  paying 50 percent more, forcing Tampa to ante up.
 
"We increased from $9.77 to $11 a cubic yard to be competitive with the rest of the state," Baird said.
 
 "In those instances where we do have clogs we asked citizens to notify us, and will get out there with our jet trucks and try to take care of it."
 
The city of Tampa says it's currently removing about 2,500 cubic yards of debris each day right now, seven days a week. But even at that pace, it will take them up to a month to finally clear the streets.
 
So, they are looking at bringing in more contractors from Florida and even Alabama, hoping to get the job done that much faster. 
 

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