NEW ORLEANS — Something stinks in Sugar Hill. If you ask Carol Lewis, who has lived there for three decades, it’s the reliability of Metro Disposal.
“Can you imagine having seafood in plastic bags for weeks and weeks?” she said. “It really smells awful.”
Lewis says in the seventeen days since Ida hit, her garbage has been picked up once. And the truck didn’t even bother with other neighbors on the street, leaving their cans full and rotting.
“When the garbage man did pass, I had to put Clorox up and down the street and then go and get my water hose and just water it in order to wash the smell away,” said Lewis.
The trouble with the trash, according to the city, is that Metro Disposal is operating with just 25 percent of its normal workers. The issue started long before the storm. But post-Ida trash has increased the workload three to five times, says the Mayor.
She announced Wednesday that residents can take bagged household trash to the Elysian Fields Transfer site, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
People should expect long lines.
And residents will have to find their own transportation and toss the trash from their cars themselves.
“You don’t want to put that in your car. I know I don’t,” laughed Lewis.
“A lot of people around here don’t have transportation to go bring their garbage over there, to be honest with you. They’ll just gonna have to just wait until the truck come and dump.”
There is some progress in Lakeview. Sidney Torre’s IV Waste had already been helping Metro with some routes before the storm and was in negotiations for a longer contract.
Tuesday, they were tasked with taking over several of Metro’s routes in Lakeview that had gone untouched for weeks.
Torres says getting the pickup schedule on track will involve several passes since there’s so much trash.
“It’s heavy, heavy. 20 tons, 21 tons, 22 tons. Very wet garbage. You know, frozen foods that were put out in bags that are melted and sitting there for weeks,” he said.
It’s an extra dirty job, and sometimes takes several workers to move one trash can. It’s filling up trucks fast, too.
“We packed out 8 trucks with only picking up the cans. Can you imagine if we would have been picking up the bags? So I ask the residents to please have the patience to understand that this is not normal circumstances and we’re coming in to help out,” said Torres. “We will continue to help them as long as they need our help.”
But the patience with the city government is thin. Cantrell’s trash drop off location announcement was widely criticized on social media.
One resident is planning a trash parade to City Hall on Saturday, encouraging people to load up trucks and bring their trash to city hall.
The event description encourages attendees to wear trash bags or “garbage related costumes;” the frustration building even faster than the mountains of trash.