Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County News

County Extends Idalia Debris Pickup Deadline to October 1. Still Have Trees, Limbs, Branches – You Can Deposit Them In the County Right-a-Way

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County was hit hard by Hurricane Idalia. There wasn't a lot of rain, but the high winds made fast work of treetops, limbs, and branches. Last Friday, September 15, FEMA's boots on the ground in the south end of the County, Robert and Sterling, after seeing all Idalia's debris, told you reporter that they were going to recommend extending the debris pickup deadline.

Idalia Hits the County

On August 30, Idalia swiftly made its way across Columbia County, taking down power lines, trees, treetops, limbs, and branches. Roads were blocked, and most of Columbia County lost power.

Three weeks later, with yards and other areas still filled with storm debris, the cleanup had folks asking for an extension of the FEMA-supported cleanup.

Last night, the County heard from Assistant County Manager Kevin Kirby, who is also in charge of the public works department.

Kevin Kirby: Columbia County Assistant County Manger
Assistant County Manager/Public Works Director Kevin Kirby addressed the County 55.

Mr. Kirby addressed the Commissioners (abridged): Mr. Chairman, I'll do your hurricane update at this time. The hurricane hit midday. Your crews mobilized within about an hour. When it got safe, we worked around the clock. We cut and tossed, opened up infrastructure, and worked until we were declared by FEMA [emergency declaration]. We are currently still in the State of Emergency declared by the governor. We had put a deadline for folks to place the debris on the County right-a-way, which ended this past Sunday, the 17th.

Mr. Kirby explained that "roughly 55% of the county [debris]" has been removed so far.

Mr. Kirby estimated the County's contractors will finish their first pass of County pickup by October 1. Mr. Kirby explained that they would then make a second pass.

He told The 5, “We cannot go past the first (October 1) because that's when you're gonna start your second pass… we want to take that step, I would recommend October 1st. I think that’s reasonable.”

The 5 agreed with Mr. Kirby.

Everett Philips, Columbia County Commissioner
Commissioner Everett Phillips (file)

Commissioner Phillips was concerned about trees and other organic debris hanging over the County right-a-way from private property.

Mr. Kirby explained, “They will take a chainsaw and saw it at the telephone pole.” Generally, the phone poles are at the farthest edge of the County right-a-way.

Mr. Phillips said, "Yes, sir, that's what I needed to know."

Mr. Kirby said that while the newly extended deadline would be October 1, commonsense would prevail, and if one had more debris at that time and the contractors had not picked up the debris from the right-a-way, one could put it out.

If one deposits debris in the county right-a-way after the contractors make their final round of debris removal, the County will find you and charge you with illegal dumping.

So, after sixteen minutes and thirty-four seconds, the County 5 extended residents and businesses ability to deposit organic debris in the County right-a-way.


The American people are mostly paying the bill for this. This is not “free money.” It is neighbors helping neighbors, with some of them thousands of miles away.

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