Debris left behind by Irma is creating a stinky situation in Maitland.

  • Some residents thought odor was from sewer leak
  • Tree debris settling in low, swampy areas, creating hydrogen sulfide
  • Rain, heat contributing to rotting vegetation, as well

City officials reported on Sept. 20 having receiving several calls about an odor outside. Some people thought it was a sewer leak.

“It's awful. It’s gross,” said Maitland resident Charlotte Nowakhtar.

It turns out there’s a different explanation for it. According to the city, tree debris knocked free by Irma is settling in low, swampy areas and rotting, creating hydrogen sulfide.

The extra rain, changes in lake levels, and heat are contributing to the rotting vegetation as well.

Nowakhtar told us the odor is strongest early in the day.

“There's like a raw sewage smell first thing in the morning,” she said.

There’s a reason for that, too. 

“The reason you smell it in the morning more is that hydrogen sulfide is heavier than air, so it's it's in the low-lying areas, and as the winds pick up a little bit and mixes it up, then you smell it a little bit more and it dissipates in the afternoon,” explained Assistant City Manager Mark Reggentin in a Facebook video.

Orange County Environmental Protection confirmed this smelly situation is not exclusive to Maitland, as there is a staggering amount of debris left all over the county by Irma.

What can you do about the smell? Well, not much.

“Go back inside. I mean, what can you do? It's in the air.” Nowakhtar said.