Operation Mardi Gras: City council, residents question officials about trash issues

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Disgusted New Orleans residents came before the city council to address the ongoing garbage crisis across the city. Citizens are demanding answers from Metro Service Group and Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s administration about why their trash hasn’t been picked up in weeks.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. Somebody needs to start doing they job and it needs to start with this man sitting here, cause he’s representing the city. He’s sitting up there bubbling and babbling like I don’t know, he don’t know what the hell is goin’ on,” said one New Orleans resident.

For three hours, members of the council questioned Gilbert Montano, New Orleans’ Chief Administrative Officer, and Jimmie Woods, owner of Metro, about the company’s failure to collect garbage.

“What can I tell somebody who’s emailed me for five consecutive days and said I’m on day 21, I’m on day 22, I’m on day 23, I’m on day 24 of no pick up?” asked Councilman Joe Giarrusso.

Operation Mardi Gras is deploying a variety of city owned trucks to help pick up the rotting garbage, primarily in zone two, which includes more than 70,000 customers in New Orleans East, Lakeview and Gentilly. Councilmembers are urging Cantrell’s administration to make more trash transfer stations available.

“We need to pick the sites now and get them figured out by this weekend,” said City Council President Helena Moreno.

In addition, the city says it’s trying to find more garbage contractors to help out.

“This is the first time where we cannot throw money at a problem to solve this issue quickly. We’ve tried that. We’ve been on the phone with national contractors, we did an emergency procurement. We have no responsive bidders at this moment,” said Ramsey Green, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Infrastructure.

The meeting ended with little answers from the city administration and Metro. Now, it’s a waiting game to see if Operation Mardi Gras can pick up the pace over the weekend.

Councilmembers asked the city’s administrations when they can expect a decision from FEMA on waivers for the city, and they were told three to four months. City officials say they are still working on logistics as to what kind of trash will be picked up from each household since there’s a mix of household waste and storm debris on the streets.

The city council will meet again on Tuesday morning for an update on Operation Mardi Gras.

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