Baton Rouge sanitation officials preparing debris removal contingency plan if tropical weather threatens

While city and state leaders are keeping a close eye on the tropical weather system threatening the Gulf of Mexico next week, they’re also making contingency plans relative to debris collection if it appears the storm is headed this way.

Karen Khonsari, director of environmental services for East Baton Rouge Parish, says residents might be asked to temporarily stop putting debris on the curb if it appears that the storm is taking aim at the Louisiana coast.

In the meantime, parish officials are also looking at ways to speed up debris collection. The parish’s contractor might be asked to work overnight, though no decision has been made to do that yet, she says.

“We’re thinking outside the box about a lot of options,” she says. “But for now we’ll continue to watch it and if it looks like it is heading this way we would tell people please stop putting out debris until it passes … and we will continue to pick up until the last possible moment.”

Regardless of what happens with the still-ill defined weather system, Khonsari says debris removal crews are working from sunrise to sunset and will continue to work both days this weekend.

So far, the 60 debris trucks on the streets of East Baton Rouge Parish have picked up more than 51,600 cubic yards of debris—about 15% of the estimated 321,000 cubic yards that has piled up over the past 10 days on curbs in areas that were affected by the floods. By Saturday a total of 75 trucks will be on the job.

“We’re rolling along,” Khonsari says. “We’re pushing as hard as we can.”

—Stephanie Riegel

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