Cedar Rapids police have cited a handful of people in recent weeks for scavenging from the piles of flood debris. Department spokesperson, Sergeant Cristy Hamblin, says the city has had an ordinance for some time that prevents people from taking garbage left out by the curb.
Hamblin says the ordinance has always been enforced when people picked up stuff, but she says things have been so different lately because the stuff being set out by the curb is flood debris. Normally Cedar Rapids has had clean-up days where residents can set items out by the curb that can be picked up. But, Hamblin says the flood materials pose a danger.
Hamblin says there is "all kinds of nasty stuff" in flood debris is a real health hazard, and that’s why people who carry it out wear gloves and masks. Scrap metal prices are way up, and Hamblin says that makes it tempting for people to pick through the flood debris.
Hamblin says people see the dollar signs and end up putting the money ahead of their health. The Cedar Rapids ordinance allows police to cite anyone who isn’t an authorized solid waste collector for picking up flood debris.
Cedar Rapids residents pulled thousands of tons of flooded material out of their homes and businesses, so much debris, that a landfill that had been closed was re-opened to help handle it all.