Instead of its usual role as an open, green space, Doral’s Central Park was Tuesday a playground for really big trucks. Rather than the sounds of kids playing and couples ambling on a sunny September afternoon, it resonated with the grind of industrial equipment and the crunch of dead trees.
Central Park is currently closed to the public, serving as a staging area for the trees and debris being cleared from the city’s streets and sidewalks.
“How many loads have you delivered today?” I asked truck driver Ronan Carbargal as he was exiting the park. “Nueve, ocho, siete,” he replied, flipping through pink work orders. He then drove away to pick up and drop off one more haul before the end of the day.
Doral is, of course, not alone in dealing with this issue. All local governments in South Florida are responsible for dealing with the debris in their respective towns. And it’s up to each gated community to forge a plan to get rid of theirs.
If you’ve been out and about post-Irma, you’ve likely seen the piles of gnarled tree parts and debris in front yards and along sidewalks in your neighborhood. And so, it is no surprise when I tell you the cleanup is going to take a while.
Three hundred million cubic yards of debris are expected to be hauled away in Miami-Dade County alone. And in the city of Miami, officials said Monday that they expect the cleanup to take four to six months to complete.
If there is one silver lining in what’s sure to be a months-long headache for local governments – not to mention residents – it’s that FEMA will be picking up 75 percent of the bill for the cleanup. The rest is up to the cities, the counties and the state.
One note of caution for residents of Doral tempted to unload personal debris at the Central Park site: Don’t do it. It is for authorized city drop-off only.