Executive order prioritizes debris clean up in Florida community after Ian

People throughout Central Florida are already fed up with the debris piled on the side of roads after Hurricane Ian.

The City of Port Orange is worried about vermin, disease, and fire hazards. Piles of people’s belongings are scattered along the side of the road on Ruth Street in Port Orange.

"The floodwaters have come before, but they never really made it that far up," Robert Bennett, who lives on the street, said.

This time was different. Bennett said the water was at his front door. His truck was almost underwater, and the first thing he saw was his canoe.

"I pulled it up and dumped all the water up and got the kids with their backpacks and garbage bags," Bennett said.


He and his three kids made it to the other side of his road on Ruth Street, but the wind from Hurricane Ian was too strong for Bennett to paddle. He swam back to his house, then was able to start his truck and pick up his kids.

"We barely made it out of here. The water was coming over the hood. We made it to my sister’s house on Jackson Street," Bennett said.

Almost two weeks later, Bennett said the damage to his home is minor, but his street is littered with his neighbors' belongings, including mattresses, dressers, and other furniture.

"All their furniture. It got up into their couches. Their couches are ruined. As you keep watching as they keep cleaning up more, you start seeing the drywall coming out, and their kitchens and cabinets and everything."

The City of Port Orange is making the clean-up a priority. The emergency management director signed an executive order stating the city and its employees or contractors are responsible for cleaning debris from Ian, and in a timely manner. It states leaving the debris could cause disease, is likely to attract vermin and reptiles, and poses a safety risk by potentially blocking access for emergency vehicles.

"It’s just a matter of time. If all this stuff sits out and stagnates, there’s going to be problems," Bennett said.