The team behind NorfolkCares launched a new resident request portal, called MyNorfolk, in October 2019.
This dataset provides a view of the thousands of calls, emails, online requests and app submissions Norfolk Cares staff field each month to assist residents with service requests and questions.
Bulk Waste Collection ranks as the top requested service. Hard working Team Norfolk employees in our call center and in Public Works collaborate to ensure that your request makes it to the right place, and that our city stays clean!
Your portal for requests, questions and information about your city
Norfolk offers residents plenty of ways to contact Norfolk Cares - an easy to use app for both Android and iOs, an online portal at www.mynorfolk.org or a phone call to our friendly staff at 757-664-6510.  
Residents can make a service request or ask a question.


Meet Halima Akar, the leader of the Norfolk Cares team!

Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello!

Since closures and work site changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this hard-working team of 11 has handled call volumes ranging from 2,000 to more than 3,000 per week, and app submissions ranging from 500 to more than 1,700 per week. Call volumes have ticked up steadily since COVID-19 closures took effect. This graphic shows the numbers of MyNorfolk requests per month -- check out those spikes in July and August.

Top request: trash

Both pre- and post- COVID-19 closures, the most requested services were for bulk and regular trash pickup.
This visualization from the MyNorfolk data shows the top 10 request types -- six of the top 10 deal with trash. 

Hello again!

In addition to the above bulk waste requests through MyNorfolk, the call center team handles thousands of additional bulk waste calls each month that are logged directly into the city's bulk waste pickup scheduling system.
You may notice there is no data for April 2020. During this month, Waste Management and Public Works stopped accepting bulky waste pick up requests in order to retrofit  trucks with additional safety equipment to protect members of Team Norfolk.

Trash talk

Let's talk about trash -- specifically, bulk waste. The city runs six to 10 boom trucks each day to collect bulk waste. For a couple reasons, Norfolk halted bulk waste collection during the early days of shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, Public Works needed to modify its trucks to make them safe for two people to occupy at once and to comply with social distancing requirements.
Second, Public Works needed extra personnel to conduct regular trash pickups. More people at home meant more cars on neighborhood streets, which meant refuse collectors had to pull trash carts from behind cars and to the truck to empty.
Androse Jefferson, Norfolk's superintendent of Waste Management, said that meant collectors were often in the road and in the right of way, adding to the risks of their job.
"We have the fifth most dangerous job in the nation, a record that is nothing to be proud of -- that is our reality," Jefferson said. "We work in the rain, extreme heat, cold weather and pandemics!" 

Back on the road

Public Works soon developed a plan to modify trucks so teams could safely work together again. Jefferson said his staff's dedication and commitment to serving the community is just how they roll.
"Waste Management never stops and we continued to modify collections during this health crisis until we came up with innovative solutions to continue to serve Norfolk, while keeping staff safe," Jefferson said. "We’ve had almost perfect attendance from the beginning and it continues today."

Bulk Waste Requests for 2020

This visualization provides a view of just how busy this team is, and how crucial their work is to our city. The drop off in April represents the weeks during which the city could not collect bulk waste. The spike represents bulk waste requests after the service resumed in May, as well as a spike after Tropical Storm Isaias knocked down trees and limbs around Norfolk. Hover over the graph, click, and drag your cursor to see more recent dates. You can also go to this link to see all of the Bulky Item Pick Up Requests in the MyNorfolk dataset: https://data.norfolk.gov/Government/Bulky-Item-Pick-Up-Requests/6tg2-ftte.

Waste management requests over time
This graphic, pulled from the MyNorfolk data, shows waste management requests so far in 2020.
Where are the most bulk waste requests?
This heat map, created from data pulled from the MyNorfolk dataset, shows bulk waste requests around the city. 
Help us keep Norfolk clean!
A simple bulk waste pickup request to Norfolk Cares can help keep our city looking great. Bulk waste just means items that are too large to fit inside the City-issued, green, 90-gallon container.
Jefferson said bulk waste items include discarded furniture (couches, recliners, tables, mattress etc.), large appliances (refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers), and plumbing fixtures (bathtubs, toilets, sinks).
Branches, brush and logs are also considered bulk items. Tree limbs, branches, and sticks must not exceed 6 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter.  
For the best service, Akar said, please submit your bulk waste request through the app or online portal BEFORE setting it out for collection.  

That's a lot of trash

The maximum amount of waste allowed per bulk stop is three cubic yards. For reference, that is a 9-foot-wide x 9-foot-tall x 9-foot-long pile, per residence, per week and is limited to 12 collections per calendar year.  
To ensure our crews can collect your waste, please place it as close as possible to the curb or roadside and at least three feet away from any obstructions such as mailboxes, telephone poles, garbage containers, etc. Check out the pictures above: these are BIG trucks, and they need room to move! 
Please do not place items underneath overhead wires or tree limbs.  Do not block the passage of vehicles, pedestrians or drainage.

Please don't hurt us!

Items that are not allowed include tree trunks/logs/stumps that exceed 6 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter and any limb debris trimmed/removed by a contractor.  Please note that lumber and fencing is considered household bulk waste, not yard bulk waste.  
Commercial waste or demolition debris such as concrete, dirt, fiberglass, hazardous waste etc. is not acceptable and requires proper disposal at a SPSA Transfer Station.   
Our refuse collectors need your help to safely remove waste from our streets.
  • Glass surfaces such as windows, doors, tables, and stoves all must be extensively TAPED to prevent shattering. The resident is responsible for cleaning up any broken glass debris that may result from the collection of those items.  
  • Protect children from becoming trapped in items with doors such as refrigerators, stoves, and cabinets by removing the doors or taping them shut.
Jefferson said his crews most often collect discarded furniture and tree limbs. He reminded residents that rules regarding items that should not be collected by city teams protect employees as well as residents.
"A resident stuffed a propane tank in a sofa," Jefferson said. "When the boom truck began to crush the load, the tank ruptured and blew the back door off the truck. Luckily, nobody was injured."  

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