South Memphis neighbors get results after calling WREG about debris problem

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Driving down Wabash Avenue in South Memphis, you’re quick to see trash and debris piled on the sidewalks.

“It just continues to build up and it just takes down the value I think of the community. It started to stink, you could smell it, you could smell the trash," said Stephanie Smith.

Smith says she’s reported the problem multiple times to the city.

She says she couldn’t get through to anyone at first, and was eventually told crews would be out within 10 business days.

“It just looks horrible. No one wants to live in that.”

After weeks passed and garbage trucks drove by without stopping, she called WREG.

We reached out to the city on Friday and within an hour, several crews arrived.

“Immediately," said Smith. "It’s crazy because they could’ve just taken the initiative to just do their job on their own. You shouldn’t have to go to extreme measures just to get someone to do their job.”

The city says they’re working to make debris pick-up more consistent and efficient.

“Today it’s confusing for people because they don’t know, ‘When do I put it on the curb? If I put it on the curb this week, are you going to pick it up this week? Do I need to call somebody?’ There’s no real set policy," said Doug McGowen, chief operating officer of Memphis.

He said they’re working to fix that.

The city fired its solid waste contractor Inland, and plans to hire more employees and get more equipment.

McGowen said the changes won’t happen overnight, but they do expect higher quality soon.

“I’ll be hopeful but at the same time, it’s the city; that’s just about all I have to say about that," said Smith.

She said she just wants her tax dollars to be put to good use.

The contractor “Waste Pro” is taking over the solid waste role for Memphis. They already provide services for Germantown.

City officials ask for people to be patient until Oct. 1 — that’s when the changes are expected to be ironed out.