Cleanup begins for flooded Orange County communities

Crews set to pick up debris from damaged homes

Contractors and crews are cleaning up debris in Orange County communities as officials start the process of recovering from Hurricane Ian.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Contractors and crews are cleaning up debris in Orange County communities as officials start the process of recovering from Hurricane Ian.

“We are ready, and we will be working with FEMA and with our engineers to look at what we can do to mitigate some of that impact,” Ralphetta Akerm-Mcclary, the Fiscal and Operational Support Division manager of Orange County Public Works, said.

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Akerm-McClary said the county is working to prevent future flooding. Before that, they have to move the debris to assess where improvements need to be made.

“We will have roughly 12 large crews out as we finalize the implementation phase,” Akerm-McClary said.

Crews, some from Missouri, were seen Thursday using heavy machinery to pick up what’s left of people’s homes in the West Side Manor neighborhood.

“This is where it settled right here, but I think it was, like, right here,” Willie Wright said as he showed News 6 crews where water rose during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Inside Wright’s kitchen, water stains could still be seen on the wall about 2 or 3 feet from the floor.

“We got everything out,” Wright said. “We pulled the wet clothes, all the furniture, everything out, carpets in the room, pulled all that out to start cutting in the walls, you know, above the water.”

Wright did point out items the family could save, like pictures and the family’s grill that they use to barbeque and sell food, but he said other priceless items, like his daughter’s UCF basketball jersey.

County officials said it’s too early to estimate the cost of the cleanup, but the department expects the size of it, at least trees and shrubs, to be around 40,000 cubic yards — or the length of about two football fields with trash filled up 10 feet, touching the bar on the goal post.

“We are unclear as to the type of construction and demolition because folks are cleaning out their homes and cleaning out their refrigerators, etcetera,” Akerm-Mcclary explained.

For the Wright family, they said they won’t abandon their home.

“Definitely a positive outlook, it’s replaceable. You know, nobody got hurt, anything like that, everything... it’s replaceable,” Wright said.

Orange County urged people to separate their debris from their homes and the debris from trees and shrubs so crews can pick it up and move on.

County officials recommended that if anyone needs more assistance or has concerns, they should call the Orange County 311 system.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.