CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Environmental Service workers in the City of Charleston have long weeks ahead of them as cleanup from Hurricane Ian is just beginning.

“It means extra hours, longer hours,” said Jameaka Scriven Pinckney, the route supervisor for the city’s street sweeping department. “We know that we have to get the city clean. That’s our number one priority.”

Three-person teams will work long hours, likely seven days a week over the next several weeks to tackle the seemingly endless piles of yard waste and other debris caused by Hurricane Ian.

“That’s all we have on the routes is just one operator and two drivers,” said Keith Baughman, an environmental services worker for the city.

Baughman’s route takes anywhere from eight to 10 hours on a typical day. With the added work from the storm, his route can take up to 13 hours because of constant trips back and forth to the dump.

“On a normal day, eight to 10 times,” said Baughman. “On a day like this, anywhere from 13 to 14 times a day.”

Preparations were made ahead of the storm to get ready for the weeks ahead.

“Making sure all the vehicles are running, making sure everybody knows a storm is coming,” said Pinckney. “We’re in hurricane mode.”

Some changes will be made to the city’s debris pick-up services over the next few weeks to ensure all yard waste is taken care of.

“How we’re setting it up to get caught up is we’ll go as far as we can, then where we finish today, next week we’ll just pick up where we stopped. So we’ll actually start off in the middle, or however far we get, and then continue until we get it all picked up.”

Baughman said the biggest thing he wants Charleston residents to know is that yard debris cannot be mixed with any other miscellaneous items, otherwise it cannot be picked up.

“Bees Ferry [landfill] will not allow us to bring miscellaneous items to them. It has to be sticks, leaves, bags, just like it is,” he said.”

Miscellaneous items include metal, wood, furniture, mattresses, etc.

“Anything that got damaged in the storm that they want to throw away, just hold on to it until we finish our clean-up, and then we will resume the miscellaneous again,” said Baughman.

Baughman and Pinckney agree it could take up to a month for the storm clean-up to be completely finished.

In the meantime, Baughman shared some things people can do to make the process easier for environmental services workers.

  • Keep yard debris separate from any other items/trash
  • Cut tree limbs into pieces 48 inches or smaller
  • Keep piles away from mailboxes, cars, fire hydrants, signs, etc.

Click here for an updated debris pickup schedule in your area.