NORFOLK, Va. - Trash littered around the ground and along streets is taking over Hampton Roads, and the problem is only growing, according to Sarah Sterzing, the education and program coordinator with Keep Norfolk Beautiful.
Keep Norfolk Beautiful is the city agency that is in charge of making sure the city gets clean and stays clean through educational and program efforts. She added the coronavirus pandemic is also partly to blame.
Saturday, Feb. 20, the agency kicks off their new awareness campaign called "Love Our City" where volunteers will pick up litter throughout different sections of the city on different days.
It kicks off in the Norview section of the city, which Sterzing said is one of the hardest hit with litter.
"It's important because right now we are seeing a sort of epidemic of litter throughout the world,” Sterzing said. “Norfolk is not the only community that's suffering with this right now, it's pretty much everywhere right now."
In a previous interview with News 3, Sterzing said her office received calls from upset neighbors about the growing problem. She said the number of volunteers the agency recruits has dropped because of the pandemic, which has led to less trash being picked up.
Aside from an unsightly scene, loose trash can accumulate and block critical entryways such as sewers. The back of trash over sewers can lead to more flooding during storms, Sterzing explained.
“We also want everyone to be a good citizen, resident and business owner, because if this is what people are seeing, people aren't going to want to live here,” Sterzing said. “People aren't going to want to have their kids in school here, people aren't going to want to start businesses here and build jobs here."
She added the litter is one of the first things people flying into Norfolk through Norfolk International Airport will see as they drive from the airport. The airport is next to the Norview neighborhood.
The first team of volunteers is going to meet at St. Stephens Episcopal Church at 9 a.m. The church is on the corner of Norview Ave and Johns Street, next to I-64.
Interested volunteers can still participate, Sterzing said, by simply showing up. She advised volunteers to wear a face covering and social distance. They will hand out clean up gear.