Oct. 11 2017 03:00 AM

In south Florida, cities are still trying to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. As a result of the massive cleanup effort, piles of debris are gathering all over the lower end of the state. With all the debris lying around, more trucks are needed to haul away the rubbish.

Due to city budget restraints, cleanup from the tragic hurricane has been slow. Trucks are in more demand than ever, and are coming at a much higher price tag. “They have us over the barrel; I don’t like it,” said Deerfield Beach Commissioner Gloria Battle, whose city agreed Wednesday to almost double the price it is paying to have debris hauled. “But for the safety of the citizens, I believe we made the right decision.”

Under their original contract, the city of Boca Raton paid their contractor $850 per load. Under the new contract, they are expected to pay $1,450 a load. With the new pricing, taking out 10 loads a day, seven days a week, the cost for that one truck is $42,000 more each week.

In some cities in Florida, residents are being told that it could take weeks, if not months, before trucks arrive in their neighborhoods. They are concerned that the decaying piles will create a stench, become homes for rats, and pose a potential fire hazard.

The pricing situation has caught the attention of the Governor, and of the Attorney General, Pam Bondi, who has encouraged the companies to honor their contracts and warned against price gouging. When asked whether or not charges will be filed, a representative from Bondi’s office said, “We are still actively looking into the matter and cannot comment at this time.”

Ron Bergeron, owner of Bergeron Emergency Services, has hauling contracts with about eight cities. He’s held to his contracted prices, but struggled to get more trucks. According to Bergeron, the cities that won’t pay the higher cost are, unfortunately, at risk of waiting a longer time for cleanup.