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Updated: Cleanup continues after Frances
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PINELLAS COUNTY - Officials from the county and its municipalities are working hand-in-hand with citizens as efforts continue to cleanup the mess left behind by tropical storm Frances over the Labor Day weekend.

Check out the Beach Beacon and Belleair Bee to read how residents fared on the Gulf Beaches. For news about how Frances affected the rest of central Pinellas, visit the Clearwater Citizen and Seminole Beacon.

The United Way is seeking volunteers to help with its effort to assist those in need, learn how to help on the County Page.

The county released a preliminary damage report from Tropical Storm Frances on Friday, Sept. 10.

Preliminary damages from Tropical Storm Frances, includes:

Residential structures

434 with minor damage; 115 with major damage; 16 destroyed (13 mobile homes, two other structures destroyed by flooding, one destroyed by fire)

Businesses

Two with minor damage; two with major damage; one destroyed

Dollar figures connected with these damages will be compiled in about a week or so.

Pinellas County has requested that FEMA deem Pinellas County eligible for inclusion in their individual assistance program for families not insured or whose damages exceed the amount of their homeowners insurance. Pinellas County officials are diligently following through on this request and expect to have news of a determination on that request soon.

On its Web site, Pinellas County offers a few tips for those trying to get back to normal. Officials throughout the area are advising residents to use extreme caution around flooded areas and to avoid making contact with the water.

- Begin to clean up the most dangerous conditions first, such as broken glass.
- Call 911 to report life-threatening emergencies only - not damages or power outages.
- When venturing outside, avoid downed or dangling utility wires.
- Be especially careful when cutting or clearing fallen trees or walking through water puddles. Power lines could be hidden under the water.
- If the electricity is off, don't plug portable generators into a home's electrical outlet. This could injure or kill neighbors or electrical crews. Place the generator outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Plug appliances directly into the generator.
- Limiting appliance usage to the bare essentials, such as a refrigerator and portable air-conditioning unit, can conserve generator fuel.

Debris removal

Pinellas County also has activated its tree debris removal plan and announced that it is waiving some landfill fees.

According to a release, "Pinellas County Government has a removal plan in place and is activating that plan now to assist residents of unincorporated Pinellas County with clearing vegetation left behind by the storm. However, this process is time consuming. We ask for your patience. For those of you who wish to remove the debris yourself, we are providing some immediate relief from fees."

Fee waived

Private citizens living anywhere within Pinellas County who wish to transport tree and plant debris only can do so for free as the county is temporarily waiving the flat rate fees at four locations:

- County landfill, 3095 114th Ave. N. (off 28th Street North, just south of 118th Avenue North near Roosevelt Boulevard). Hours will be 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday until further notice; and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday only.

- Northwest corner of Belcher Road and 118th Avenue North. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until further notice.

- Southeast corner of East Lake Road and Keystone Road. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until further notice.

- Lealman area - 28th Street between 42nd and 43rd Avenues.

This temporary fee removal does not apply to landscapers or those in the business of hauling debris or solid waste.

Curbside Pickup

People who live in a municipality should contact their city government for more information. Cities are developing their own removal programs.

People who live on a public roadway in unincorporated Pinellas County can expect a free one-time debris removal. However, this process could take weeks to complete. People are advised to: Gather tree debris and place it at the typical trash pickup location by Monday, Sept. 13. Please do not bag the debris.

Make sure the debris pile is away from obstructions such as mailboxes and telephone and cable pedestals. To protect the integrity of cable and telephone service, do not cover these pedestals with debris.

Both the curbside pickup and landfill fee waiver only apply to debris such as tree limbs, small branches, and fallen trees generated by the storm! This does not include construction material.

Debris removal questions and answers

Clearwater

A release from the city of Clearwater states that damage assessment teams are currently deployed throughout the city to evaluate storm damage and prioritize repairs. Residents should report any hazards and damage to public infrastructure to the city's EOC hotline at 562-INFO.

Largo

Largo residents can report storm damage, trees or other obstructions in public roadways, to the city of Largo Citizen Information Center at 587-6789. Downed trees and other damage on private property or in apartment and condo developments should be reported to personal insurance companies or property management and not to the city.

Seminole

The city of Seminole reports that Waste Management will begin picking up yard debris Friday, Sept. 10. Residents are being asked to place yard debris curbside by Thursday. City Manager Frank Edmunds said workers would continue the special collection throughout the day Friday, and possibly through Saturday, depending on the need.

For information in other muncipalities, residents can call:

Belleair Town Hall at 588-3769
Belleair Beach City Hall at 595-4646
Belleair Bluff City Hall at 584-2151
Belleair Shore Mayor's office at 593-9296
Indian Rocks Beach City Hall at 595-2517
Indian Shores Town Hall at 595-4020
Madeira Beach City Hall at 391-9951
North Redington Beach Town Hall at 391-4848
Redington Beach Town Hall at 391-3875
Redington Shores Town Hall at 397-5538
Safety Harbor City Hall at 724-1555
Treasure Island City Hall at 547-4575

Other information:

Three Tax Collector's offices closed due to damage

Three Pinellas County Tax Collector's offices providing services such as driver's licenses, auto tags and registrations are closed due to power lines damaged by Hurricane Frances. While damages are repaired, residents can go to www.taxcollect.com for e-services or visit offices that remain open.

These offices are closed until further notice:

29399 U.S. Highway 19 N., Suite 100, Clearwater
1663 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater
501 1st Ave. N., St. Petersburg

These offices remain open:

315 Court St., Third Floor, Clearwater
13025 Starkey Road, Largo
1800 66th St. N., St. Petersburg
743 S. Pinellas Ave., Suite A-7, Tarpon Springs
1067 62nd Ave. S., St Petersburg.

For information, call (727) 562-3262.

For more information about developments in the county, visit the Pinellas County Web site at www.pinellascounty.org/default.htm or tune into Pinellas 18 TV. For information on hurricane preparedness, visit www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/Local.htm or TBNWeekly.com's Hurricane Information Center.
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