Mother nature wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast in late August and again in early September, first with Hurricane Harvey and then with Irma. Those in the affected areas will have months of cleanup ahead, and of course our hearts go out to these communities dealing with unimaginable widespread flooding, wind damage and debris.

It was frightening to watch Hurricane Irma make its way up the west coast of Florida. Like many of you, I was glued to my television and texting and calling friends and family in the area regularly for updates and to make sure they were safe. Buildings and belongings can be replaced; the most important area of concern as the storm was coming through was safety.

After the storms passed, it was obvious major cleanup would be necessary to get roads passable, homes inhabitable and life back to normal again. That’s where you come in.

You play an integral role in the cleanup and rebuilding process. Without you, no one would take all of that debris and garbage away, and it would have no place to go. ”

Times like this can bring out the best in people who want to help lend a hand to those in need. For the waste industry, it is a stark reminder of just how important your jobs are in helping to rebuild a community. You play an integral role in the cleanup and rebuilding process. Without you, no one would take all of that debris and garbage away, and it would have no place to go.

Eliminating storm debris will fall to many waste hauling companies over the coming weeks. From downed trees to building debris, furniture, carpet and spoiled food, these haulers will be doing a world of good for these ravaged communities that want desperately to return to their normal, prehurricane lives.

I imagine that much of the material will find its way to one of nearly a dozen waste-to-energy facilities around Florida. This is another important part of the cleanup, as combusting it will prevent the wet and decomposing debris from becoming a biohazard.

Rebuilding won’t be easy or fast, but without waste companies to take away the remnants of the storm and process the material, it could not be done. It will be a daunting task, and communities in the affected area will be grateful for your assistance. It’s times like these when it becomes very clear what an important service the waste and recycling industry provides. It’s not just about getting ugly debris out of the way, it is also about recognizing that without you and the services you provide, the health, safety and environment of millions of people would be at risk.

I commend all waste industry workers in the affected areas for the job you are doing and wish you success in the months ahead.