Storm Debris

After a major storm event such as a hurricane, local governments in combination with the state and federal government may declare a state of emergency. If this happens and there is need for debris collection, Highlands County will work in conjunction with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to engage with private contractors through contracts which are in place prior to the event. Highlands County will make several locations available for disposal of debris for these contractors. Residents may also haul their debris material to the Highlands County Landfill located at 12700 Arbuckle Creek Road in Sebring. This will be the only location where the public may dispose of debris material themselves. 


The FEMA/Highlands County debris collection program will be available for collection of qualified debris from qualifying areas. Please see requirements. Public roadways will be immediately cleared of debris from the travel ways by the maintaining agency for the roadway (FDOT, Highlands County, municipality, etc.) as a first priority.  Following the initial road clearing effort, residents may start placing debris from qualifying areas in the public right-of-way for collection. 


Florida Department of Transportation(FDOT) roadways (such as Highway 27, Highway 98, SR-64, SR-66, SR-70, SR-17)- FDOT will make one pass through their roadways collecting debris in the right-of-way. Once FDOT crews make their one pass, all future debris from properties adjoining these roadways will have to be taken to the Highlands County Landfill for disposal. This will be the responsibility of the property owner.


Local Road Right-of-ways - Highlands County, City of Avon Park, City of Sebring, Town of Lake Placid, Sun'n Lake Improvement District, Spring Lake Improvement District:  Highlands County will enact the private contractor under contract in accordance with FEMA guidelines. Per FEMA requirements, only debris originating from improved residential properties placed in the public right-of-way will be collected. Depending on several factors, maintained right-of-ways may be cleared before crews clear non-County/City maintained public right-of-ways. Public road right-of-ways may be identified by a green road name sign with white letters for those that are County/City maintained; or may have a white sign with green letters for those which are not maintained by the County/City.


Private Right-of-Ways - Private right-of-ways such as those maintained by property Owner associations may be considered if allowed by FEMA.


The maintaining entity of these roadways will need to contact the Highlands County Engineering Department for requirements to be included in the FEMA Private Property Debris Removal program. Applications will need to be filed with Highlands County and approval received from FEMA prior to any work occurring by the FEMA contractors. Approval for collection may take as long as 30-days, or possibly more. Private maintained roadways typically have a white road name sign with green letters. 


Private roadways easements- The FEMA program does not allow collection of debris material from private roadways easements. Property owners with any debris from properties accessed from these easements will be required to make arrangements to have the debris disposed of properly.  These roads also have a white road name sign with green letters. 


Areas that WILL NOT be included in the private property debris removal program include commercial properties, private golf courses, agriculture properties, industrial properties mobile home parks, and vacant properties of all zonings. 


For more information on what road category you live on, please visit http://hcbcc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=6202f224bcde414295024616146d1e0c


What materials will be collected from qualifying areas? 

Vegetative debris such as trees and branches or inert building material debris. The vegetative debris and inert building materials need to be kept separate from each other. Mixing of materials may result in delays in getting picked up or may result in non-pick up completely.  This does not include any hazardous waste, furniture, clothing, or other household waste items. Non-qualifying items should be properly disposed of at the Highlands County Landfill or set out for normal garbage collection following requirements of your solid waste service provider. 


The length of the clearing project will vary depending on severity of the damage and the amount of debris to be collected. It is important that any debris qualifying for collection be placed in the right-of-way as soon as safely possible. All material to be collected should be ready for collection within thirty (30) days after the event if possible to avoid being missed. Check the Highlands County website (www.hcbcc.net) or Facebook page for collection deadlines for more information should an event occur.  


Remember when placing material in the right-of-way for collection, to keep piles out of the travel lanes, out from under other trees or branches and stay away from obstacles such as fire hydrants, mail boxes, trees, low power lines, and utility poles. 


If you need more information please contact Emergency Management at 863-385-1112 or Emergency         Management’s Citizen Emergency Information Line at 863-402-6800.