In the wake of Entergy’s much-criticized pace restoring power after Hurricane Isaac, New Orleans city administrators last week began hearing from frustrated residents about lack of garbage pick-up. At first, the city asked for garbage to be put out September 1, the Saturday after the storm. Then the instructions came that the garbage would be picked up on Monday, September 3.
On both days, residents witnessed garbage trucks pass through the Riverbend area off Carrollton and pick up only random bags and odd pieces of debris. The garbage bin in front of one house on Dublin Street was mysteriously emptied on Saturday, while every other bin on the block remained on the curb. On the next street over, Dante, a garbage truck stopped to pick up two or three items on Monday, leaving behind piles of stinking garbage bags holding the contents of emptied refrigerators.
One resident fired off an angry email to members of the City Council. Susan Guidry promised action and got it: The next day sanitation workers picked up all the trash in front of the complainant’s house, though the rest of the block still lay untouched. Another council member was not so sympathetic. Jackie Clarkson wrote in response to a garbage query, “I am sorry that you cannot appreciate how lucky we were and how good (sic) this city has performed! ”
A September 4 article on nola.com indicated that garbage pick-up was running “about a day behind schedule in the City of New Orleans.” But last Thursday, a drive up Carrollton Avenue, along South Claiborne and down Louisiana Street toward Magazine, revealed piles of trash bags and storm debris in front of nearly every house.
Garbage trucks appeared yet again Uptown on Saturday, September 8, picking up some garbage but inexplicably leaving the rest. On one block of Dante Street, Richards Disposal refused to pick up anything not in a garbage can. When one resident complained to the workers that the bags had been sitting in front of her house since Friday, August 31, a worker told her they “might come back for it sometime” and drove off.
City administrators had already acknowledged the problem on September 7. In an email the following day to one frustrated resident, Susan Guidry revealed that New Orleans has had to compete with other cities for sanitation laborers after the storm and “is now having to go out of state” to find the necessary manpower.
“Obviously,” writes Guidry, “this means that the laborers who are working are probably working long hours and being pressured to run their routes quickly, and many are not regularly employed by the companies and therefore have little or no training and little or no concern about losing their jobs. The Admin reported that they are continuing to hire more laborers and expect to be back to regular pickup of garbage by Monday,” September 10.
As of this writing, however, many of these piles of garbage still remain throughout Uptown and Mid-City. At least one street in the Garden District has reported seeing no garbage trucks since before the storm hit, two weeks ago.