As the recovery phase after Hurricane Irma continues, Sarasota County has extended its local state of emergency again.
County Administrator Tom Harmer announced the decision at the Tuesday County Commission meeting, explaining that even though Hurricane Irma passed through the county more than two weeks ago now, officials are still working to get things back to normal in Sarasota.
"It's ongoing," Assistant County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said. "It will be for quite some time."
One of the biggest recovery challenges facing the county and its municipalities now is debris collection. The county in particular is having trouble collecting storm debris, as subcontractors move south in search of higher wages for their work. Sarasota County’s debris collection rate is $8 per cubic yard. But further south, contractors could get up to $18 per cubic yard.
The city of Sarasota announced Tuesday that it has not had any of its crews leave the area, and that contractors are still collecting storm debris seven days a week.
The local state of emergency initially went into effect Sept. 7, and runs in seven-day cycles. It gives officials license to implement recovery actions quickly, without facing too many logistical hurdles, and reminds residents that things aren't back to normal yet.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for Florida, which will extend through November.