It's Boom Time For Trash Collectors

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Post-hurricane business is booming for at least one company that’s hauling off trash that the city hasn’t picked up.

Rob Watson, operations manager for 1-800-Got-Junk, told us that the company started showing up in random neighborhoods a couple days after Ike to work door to door, but business came easier than that, because the trucks were flagged down by people standing outside their houses.

“We got from our customers that they started calling 311, but the city is just so overwhelmed and bogged down that some people didn’t want to wait and didn’t want that stuff out there for two or three months,” Watson says.

The city has been picking up tree limbs and stumps and leaves for about a week, and that’s going to continue to be the focus, according to Harry Hayes, the city’s director of Solid Waste Management.

The department is using about 800 trucks and crews contracted through Disaster Recovery Services, Inc., and Hayes tells Hair Balls every neighborhood in the city should have at least one round of green debris pick up by October 18.

“Our daily collection is enough to fill up the Chase Tower,” Hayes says. There’s about 5 million cubic yards of tree debris on the ground, Hayes says, which is about 20 times the city’s yearly total.

Stuff like furniture probably won’t be picked up on the first run, Hayes says, and the Neighborhood Protection Corps is out looking for neighborhoods that experienced flooding so the city knows where there will be a lot of heavy-trash pick-up.

“It’s unfortunate, some people are going to use this as an opportunity to clean out the garage or clean out that extra room,” Hayes says. “It’s going to happen, and we’re just going to have to deal with it.”

The guys from 1-800-Got-Junk are focusing on Houston. They’ve made five trips to Galveston and Kemah, but they haven’t done much heavy-trash removal from the coast. According to Watson, their biggest Galveston job was at a CVS pharmacy to haul off a truck load of melted ice cream.

“We had cases of the stuff just dripping all over our hands,” Watson says. “That wasn’t very fun to handle.”

-- Paul Knight

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