‘We had to pull cans out of snow,’ Garbage men work longer hours in winter weather

Digital Originals

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Sanitation work: it’s a tough job that gets tougher when winter weather hits.

Curtis Lewis is a residential driver for the Peoria Disposal Company. He said he hits the road at 6 a.m. to collect trash and his shifts can last up to 10 hours.

“Today, when you compare it to last week, today is a golden day,” he said of the temperatures in the 50s on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Last week, Peoria and most of the nation were hit with below-freezing temperatures, ice, and snow. And while some people stayed in their homes, Lewis said he was braving single-digit temperatures to take out the city’s trash.

“It was cold. It was slick outside (and) the roads weren’t very (good) and we had to pull cans out of snow,” he said.

He said the best thing residents can do to help workers get through the day is to keep their garbage cans in a location that’s easily accessible.

“At least have them in front of the cars or in front of the pile (of snow) that’s out and put the trash inside the cans,” he said.

Dawn Callear of Peoria said she listens to PDC’s radio feed on her scanner, and it gives her a better understanding of the day in a life of a garbage man.

She listens to them on 452.975.

“It’s not an easy job even though they have trucks that can lift most of these cans. There is a lot of stuff they have to physically do themselves,” she said.

Lewis said he appreciates neighbors like Callear who make his job easier. He said some neighbors go as far as leaving bottled waters or Gatorade, and the kind gesture does not go unnoticed.

To make sure the garbage is taken away on trash day, Lewis said to leave the cans at the end of the driveway by 6 a.m.

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