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Hurricane Preparation

Depending on the storm’s strength, hurricanes can cause major wind damage, flooding and storm surge in some coastal areas. Hurricanes can certainly impact more than property; services can be affected. Polk County’s Waste and Recycling staff wants to make sure residents of unincorporated Polk know what they can expect from waste collection services once a storm is named, a watch is issued and what’s to come after the storm. Please visit our website regularly, and follow our social media, to see changes to trash pick up schedules and garbage collection days.

Before Hurricane Season

The following will ensure homes and yards are ready for hurricane season:

  • Cut back all trees and weak branches that could make contact with structures and cause damage
  • Thin out foliage and trees so wind can pass through branches, decreasing the chance that trees and plants will be uprooted
  • Clear your yard of any items that could become projectiles in high winds such as old lumber, broken lawn furniture, building materials, etc.

Residents should be routinely maintaining their yards. Large-scale tree removal and landscaping events should be completed between Dec. 1 – May 31, ahead of hurricane season.

Once a Storm is Named

  • Do not begin cutting down trees or doing major yard work
  • Do not begin construction projects that produce bulk or debris

Waiting until the last minute to prepare for the storm by cutting limbs or trimming branches will create additional yard waste, placing an added burden on the collection and disposal process. There is not enough equipment or manpower to handle the additional material before the storm makes landfall.

Once a Watch is Issued

36-48 hours before the storm

  • Do not trim vegetation of any kind.
  • Secure solid waste materials by placing them in a location away from high winds. This includes garbage or recycling containers, as well as uncollected garbage, recycling, yard waste or bulk waste.
  • Bundle and tie down all loose waste including, but not limited to tree limbs, branches and construction material. Place these materials in a location where debris cannot become hazardous to homes and vehicles in high winds.
  • If there are any other items on your property that can blow away or become hazardous to people or property, move them out of the wind or secure them.

Polk County Waste and Recycling will continue residential collection as scheduled, until the conditions become unsafe. As soon as a decision is made to stop collection before the storm, information will be shared through the website and social media outlets.

Polk County closely monitors the path and impact of hurricanes, as disasters like this can have a major impact on operations of the haulers in the affected areas going forward.

After the Storm

Residential household waste collection will resume as soon as it is safe for the service vehicles to be on the road. The initial focus will be on maneuverable streets. The county will expand its collection areas as more streets become clear of debris and other impediments.

  • Recycling and bulk collection services will likely be suspended.
  • In areas directly affected, residents will be provided more in-depth instructions for separating normal household garbage from storm debris caused by high winds and rain.

Post storm separating of household waste, bulk and routine yard waste from storm debris will allow residential collection to resume quickly and safely. The separation is necessary because another organization will be responsible for collecting storm debris in accordance with FEMA and Polk County.

Disaster Debris

Disaster debris is considered waste that has resulted from the hurricane, storm or other disaster including, but not limited to, fallen tree limbs, vegetative debris, damaged property, soaked carpet, aluminum, wood fencing and household appliances.


  • There is no reimbursement provided to any individual resident or homeowner association who hires a private contractor to remove and dispose of storm-related debris.
  • Contact information for disaster debris collection and schedule will be provided as soon as it is available following the storm. Specific questions regarding disaster debris collection should be directed to the county’s Roads and Drainage Division.

Residential Collection Schedule

Disaster Recovery

Specific schedules will be provided based on damages and residential needs. Some services may be temporarily suspended to better accommodate the most immediate of needs.

If Collection Services are Delayed Two Days
Monday normal service days would be serviced on Wednesday. Tuesday normal services days would be provided on Thursday. Service would run Monday through Friday, four consecutive days.

If Collection Services are Delayed Three Days
Monday’s routes would be serviced on Thursday. Tuesday routes serviced on Friday. Services would run four consecutive days.