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Calm after the storm?

After a terrible summer of floods and washouts, the weather gods have shown a little mercy and calmed down. But have you ever wondered what happens to the waste and recycling services in towns before and after floods? One of the worst affected areas to suffer from the recent floods was Sheffield. Veolia Environmental Services worked closely with Sheffield City Council to help residents during the floods. A spokesman said: As well as maintaining refuse collection services wherever possible, we deployed a refuse collection vehicle and crew for a week under the direction of emergency officers working for the council, in order that they could provide immediate response for the removal of contaminated property. Since the first week of the floods, we established a fast track communications system with the council to supply services directly to flood damaged properties removing among other things, furniture, freezers and defrosted food. He continued: The service offered by Veolia to flood affected areas has continued to the present day as insurance assessors have visited claimants and authorised the removal of property. This service has operated six days a week. Gloucester City Council has also had to deal with resuming waste services after the floods hit town. About 50 to 60 roads were flooded in the area and 900 properties were affected. Head of communications Marcus Grodentz said: Our services continued as normal and people continued with their recycling routine. We experienced no river flooding; our floods came to us due to flash periods of rainfall. We are running a normal waste collection service for all our residents. However, people are getting rid of waste such as furniture and sofas at different rates. Some people cannot get rid of their waste until the insurance companies have assessed them and say they can. Council staff, council contractors, farmers and soldiers have all been involved in the clear up. Grodentz said that waste vehicles had been sent to towns to pick up items such as furniture and carpets ruined by flood water. But for the 200 houses that have been inaccessible, members of the army in boats and farmers on tractors have helped by taking away both floating waste and household waste. Can damaged waste be recycled in any way? Grodentz said: It depends; you have to be aware that these items are by default contamination. Flood water contaminates these items, so there are hygiene issues. Some authorities have a strategy in place to deal with such events. We have a written policy based on river flooding. But the problem is that it is impossible to legislate for some of the extreme weather conditions that we have just had, like these freak floods. It is difficult to legislate for specific conditions. Our refuse collection has continued as normal. Apart from the roads that we have not been able to get to, the bulk of the city is able to use a normal service, Grodentz said. In Hull more than 10,500 properties in the city were evacuated during the floods and many residents may not be able to return to their homes for a year. It has not just been councils and waste management companies assisting with flood relief efforts. Hull based furniture reuse charity Eternal Benefits, has been assisting people affected by the floods. Operational manager Darren Donkin said: At the moment we have helped nearly 25 families with sofas, tables, chairs, carpet and bedding. All of the people were uninsured and so they appreciate the items we send them. Lincolnshire was one of the first areas to be hit by the floods. Boston Borough Council is based in the South-East region of Lincolnshire. Operations manager George Bernard said: By some good fortune and largely due to the centuries old drainage systems around this part of Lincolnshire, Im pleased to say that, despite record amounts of rain over the past few weeks, our refuse and recycling services were unaffected by the conditions. The torrential rain tended to happen in the afternoons and evenings after we had finished our daily routines but many of our staff were involved in filling and distributing hundreds of sandbags to residents in danger of flooding. Im unaware of anyone who was seriously affected and lost furniture or carpets such as the people of Sheffield or Doncaster or Hull. He added: If we were to suffer a similar fate to them in the future we would need to respond accordingly. We would be able to dispose of ruined goods via the landfill site provided under Lincs County Councils auspices but quite how wed cope if hundreds of properties were to be affected, I dont know!

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