Volume XI, Issue 42 ~ October 16-22, 2003

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Midnight Dumping: Crimes in the Wake of Isabel

Here’s one more thing Isabel blew in: roadside trash. There’s a new couch laying about on one of the prettiest back roads in Anne Arundel County — plus much of the cabinetry of a kitchen and enough tires to outfit an 18-wheeler that didn’t have far to go.

Where are they coming from, these midnight dumpers who can’t tell a scenic roadside from the county dumpster not much more than a mile down the road?

Maybe more than their houses were deranged by Isabel. Could it be the howling wind blew their good sense away and the blowing spray drowned their sense of direction?

How else to account for Chesapeake Country neighbors trashing the place they live?

Stupidity’s the only other answer.

There’s never a good excuse for midnight dumping, but in Isabel’s wake such public indecency is particularly rank.

Both Calvert and Anne Arundel counties were on the scene almost as fast as firefighters. In the hours after the storm, they rushed dumpsters into damaged communities. On Sunday, September 21, Anne Arundel placed 52 40-yard cans, which is the working name for open dump bins as large as truck beds, into the hardest-hit communities — where they stayed through Sunday, October 5. Calvert hauled in 21 40-yard cans to its most damaged communities.

Both counties also made it easier for citizens to clean up after Isabel by opening their drop-off sites for longer hours. Anne Arundel’s drop-off centers stayed open more than 200 hours longer each week from September 21 to October 5.

On the Sunday after Isabel, Calvert County opened its entire system for citizens to drop off storm debris. Where Isabel raged worst — Neeld Estates, Long Beach and Cove Point — the county is even providing curbside pickup, which is not a usual service in rural Calvert. “Right now, we’ve collected over 350 tons of storm debris,” says Calvert County’s Dan Williams. That figure doesn’t include hard-hit North Beach, where the town organized its own trash removal.

Storm debris, by the way, is material from homes — couches, carpeting, appliances — the very kind of trash midnight dumpers push out on our roadsides.

For greenwaste, Calvert opened a second drop-off center off Rt. 231 to supplement Appeal Landfill in the south. Well over 2,000 tons of trunks and branches amputated on Isabel’s pass through Calvert are now mulch. Calvert’s 50- to 75-foot diameter pile rises 25 to 30 feet high.

Anne Arundel County’s mulch pile is fed by 10,800 tons of deadwood. Next spring, when the mulch has seasoned, gardens in both counties will have Isabel to thank.

Meanwhile, all the leaves she dropped in your yard make good overwinter cover for gardens and flower beds.

So seeds of hope sprout from Isabel’s rampage — at least in nature. In some humans, it takes more than a hurricane to blow away dumb — or is it dump — old habits.



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Last updated October 16, 2003 @ 12:38am