Hurricane debris cleanup dragging on in Englewood

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Hurricane debris all over a yard in Englewood. Credit: WINK News

Southwest Florida remains clogged with post-hurricane debris, and one woman feels her neighborhood in Englewood is one of many that have been forgotten and left to fill with refuse.

Lee County alone has already hauled away more than 1 million cubic yards of debris since Hurricane Ian, and there remains a long way to go in Charlotte and Collier counties, too. Unless you’re one of the people lucky enough to live on a street free of debris, you are probably wondering what’s taking so long to pick it up. Not only are there cut-away tree trunks and branches, but pieces of people’s lives.

WINK News viewer Shari Westlund emailed to say she feels like her neighborhood in Englewood has been forgotten. She has lived on Tuxedo Street since 2016. The winds were so strong that at least 10 of the trees in her backyard fell over, and now their trunks are spread across her front lawn. Westlund says she needs answers.

She has been waiting for weeks for someone to come and haul away the mess.

Hurricane debris all over a yard in Englewood. Credit: WINK News

“It’s just discouraging, you know, to not know,” Westlund said. “It’s like, why can’t they alert us? Say, ‘OK, we’re gonna have storm cleanup in your neighborhood this date.’ But we don’t get any communication at all. No communication is the worst; not knowing makes you anxious. And it’s already very disorientating to look out your back windows and see everything destroyed, and then you’re the one that’s cleaned up. And it’s just… it’s disorientating to go through a storm like that and then to have this where there’s nothing, no communication whatsoever.”

But despite Westlund’s persistent calls and emails, no one from Charlotte County will come and take away the trees and other debris.

“They want us to take our own yard waste; how are we supposed to haul this?” Westlund said. “It’s very disappointing, ’cause there’s no way for a family or individual to do all this. It’s just too much, and when we try to get any kind of answers or assistance from anyone we just get the runaround.”

Westlund says she and her husband spend every day trying to clean up their yard, and they are starting to run out of room. She says she just wants someone to pick up the phone and let her know when a debris removal truck will come down Tuxedo Street.

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