Mattresses, couches, the insides of gutted houses, and bags and bags of belongings still line the streets. The cleanup was delayed for two days after the dump filled up.
“The front of my house smells like a cow barn,” resident Michael Sides told CBS2’s Meg Baker on Monday.
Rolls of carpet sit outside Sides’ home.
“We lost our whole basement, so we cut the padding and the rugs into small strips, then we bagged them. We have approximately 25 black bags on the front lawn,” Sides said.
Residents are now being told that sealed black bags will not be picked up with other debris, unless residents go back into their piles of smelly bags and open the knots to show what’s inside. People are not happy about it.
“Now with the black bags they want us to go through it all, and who wants to relive this over again and go through all of this disgusting stuff?” resident Kimberly Hejna said.
On North 6th Avenue, the water line on a holly tree was above Baker’s head. Hejna lives there and was rescued on a kayak. She lost everything and used black bags to carry the wet and muddy items outside.
“They donated the bags to us, and now they want us to go through the garbage and get it all out. And it’s just too much,” Hejna said.
Matt Loper with Somerset County explained that after Bridgewater’s dump reached capacity, the county had to set up a temporary debris management area in Hillsborough.
“We’re taking all our material to there on a temporary basis and then it will go out to landfills and transfer stations after that,” Loper said.
However, Loper added, “Because there could be food waste in these bags, we’re not allowed to store that in a temporary area, like we’re doing. So, we’re focused on picking up all the other materials first on a first round and then we’re going to come back at a later date, and pick up everything that’s remaining.”
He said it’s a public health issue. You can either open up the black bags on your property or keep them sealed and wait it out. The county expects to finish up the cleanup in the next week and a half.
CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.