At Fort Myers-based Juniper Landscaping, the cleanup process from Hurricane Irma began soon after the storm passed. The commercial and residential landscape design and maintenance company faced serious damage at its Bonita Springs and Naples offices — but that hasn't prevented it from getting to work on storm cleanup.
“Our crews are out on the roadways clearing debris and getting our communities cleared and opened up,” Juniper Landscaping Vice President Dan deMont tells Coffee Talk. “We will be extremely busy in the next few months.”
Before the hurricane arrived, the company established cleanup and rebuild plans with a majority of its clients. Juniper, which counts residential developers and homeowners associations as clients, had preauthorization agreements with about 100 communities to start the cleanup after the storm.
Juniper also identified communities with certain plant species more likely to fall down in storms and communities where trees had been in the ground for less than a year. “We've been through this before with Wilma and Charley, so we had a plan for it,” deMont says.
Juniper is cleaning up businesses it regularly maintains, too. “A lot of people don't have the availability to open up until we get their place safe,” he says.
There's so much to do, the company might seize help from subcontractors offering labor. “The big thing for us is just trying to get our communities cleaned up and the towns we work in cleaned up,” he says. “Even though we'll be eating some overtime, it's the right thing to do.”
With resources in some parts of the state tight, deMont says the company's biggest concern is running short on fuel for the company's trucks, machines, chainsaws and excavators. “You name it, we need fuel for everything we do to get the places cleaned up.” He's optimistic a fuel delivery will come soon, though. Until then, employees will conserve.
Despite all the damage to Southwest Florida, it's people who are most important, deMont says. But something else has been on his mind lately as well. “The hurricane is also kind of a sad event for people who enjoy landscape because we lose so many of these 100-, 200-, 300-year-old trees,” he says. “The landscape changes tremendously after this storm.”