With trash trucks diverted to snow duty and alleys impassable, rubbish piles up in Philly

    This winter’s historic string of snowstorms has seriously disrupted Philadelphia’s trash collection efforts. It’s gotten so bad that some people have three weeks worth of garbage piled up.

    East Mt. Airy resident Joanna Footman is one of them. She’s got 10 snow-covered trash bags clogging up a back balcony and her alley and she wants them gone now.

    “It’s becoming a nuisance because where are we supposed to keep our trash at?” said Footman inside her Michener Avenue row home.

    “Especially with a 20-month-old whose not potty-trained, and you have to throw away [those] bags,” she said. “That’s the smelliest thing you ever want to smell so that has to get outside of the house.”

    When Philadelphia is socked with a snowstorm, trash trucks are commandeered for plowing. That often throws a wrench in more than a couple trash days – especially this season.

    One missed pickup may be inconvenient, but Footman and others who normally set their refuse out in a back alley are stuck with storing their trash for much longer.

    Deputy Streets Commissioner Donald Carlton said trash trucks haven’t traveled down snow-filled alleys for years. It’s just too dangerous.

    “The winter of 2009, we had over 105 city vehicles, trash compactors, get stuck in rear driveways,” said Carlton.  “We also had a significant amount of property damage that year.”

    When their alleys are impassable, Carlton said residents with back alleys should put their refuse out on the front curb instead. It’s a message he said the department and city officials have tried to get out to the public.

    “We have sent every media outlet the info since the beginning of this winter and last winter. We do robo-calls, in which we call all residents throughout the city. Our honorable Mayor Michael Nutter makes the announcement every time he gives the state of the city during these events,” said Carlton.

    That message, however, isn’t getting through to everyone. Footman said she wasn’t aware that trash trucks wouldn’t come down her alley and has not received a call about putting her garbage out front.

    Luckily, relief is on the way. Trash collection will resume Monday despite the Presidents’ Day holiday. Footman’s husband, Joshua, can’t wait.

    “But at the same time, we can’t be insensitive,” he said. “They’re people too and they’re working around the clock.”

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