The Man Who Cleans the Streets of New Orleans The Man Who Cleans the Streets of New Orleans
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The Man Who Cleans the Streets of New Orleans

by Alicia Capetillo

February 18, 2010
After the Who Dat Nation and Mardi Gras revelers exit the Crescent City, they'll leave behind more than just memories of Bacchus, Thoth, and a Super Bowl victory parade that disgraced parades of years past; they'll also leave trash and lots of it. And who is left at the end to cart off the mountains of beads, discarded Hand Grenades, ruined stuffed animals, and plastic beer bottles? Sidney Torres IV and the SDT Waste and Debris Services.A USA Today piece profiles Torres, 33, and his efforts to clean up after both the Big Easy's biggest tragedy and biggest party in recent memory. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Torres, a former hotel developer in the French Quarter, started SDT after noticing that post-hurricane trash companies were overcharging residents in a city suddenly overwhelmed with garbage and wreckage. In addition to starting a trash-collecting service at pre-hurricane prices, one of the most significant problems Torres handled early on in the flooded city was that of the smell, specifically the smell on Bourbon Street. Enlisting a chemist's help, they came up with "Superfresh," a fragrance that SDT now sprays throughout the French Quarter to combat smells that accompany all-night partying and an absence of open container laws. Local New Orleans businesses have persistently praised his dedication to cleaning and maintaining city streets.Early Wednesday morning Torres and his team face the ruin of yesterday's emphatically more joyous storm, and will work to move the thousands of tons of trash quickly. Anyone who has seen the mess after a Mardi Gras parade knows that the undertaking is not an easy one, so I can't help but wonder how much, if any, of the trash will get recycled. The majority of the garbage is plastic (beer bottles, bead bags, cups, etc.) and paper mixed in with everything else on the streets. SDT does have a recycling program that it is working to implement, but I have a hard time believing that anyone will be sorting the plastic from the pizza. Perhaps Torres can use his newfound recognition to solve the city's recycling problem next.Photo by Tim J. Mueller/USA Today
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The Man Who Cleans the Streets of New Orleans