Jacksonville veteran sees big boost in junk removal business post pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — James Rivera is a veteran Marine and owner of JMR Cleanout Services LLC. Now that COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, he’s picking up more work.

“Things are ramping up pretty quickly,” he said.

River told Action News Jax people who have been stuck at home are now eager to clear out some of their possessions.

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“Found this bottle of Jose Cuervo, but I opened it and it smells like gasoline so don’t drink it,” laughed Rivera.

The home that Rivera is cleaning out today is vacant and when he walks into any house, he clears all the items that were left behind by the previous owner or renter.

Rivera said when you walk into a house, you never know what’s left behind.

“Worked for a company in New Jersey before I moved to Florida and I found a human skull once. And I did some research and it turns out it was used in a school setting,” he said.

Long before the days of cleaning out homes, Rivera served in Iraq back in 2004.

While driving a humvee, an IED exploded, hitting Rivera with shrapnel.

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“When that thing went off – of course I didn’t know what the heck happened in the moment, was kind of knocked over to the side,” Rivera said.

Thankfully, he was able to get him and his team to safety.

When he returned home, he battled with PTSD and barely left his couch.

Wounded Warrior Project got Rivera the help he needed and he was able to jumpstart his career.

“Feeling better and learning how to deal with the issues that I was suffering from,” Rivera said.

Today a “clean-out” like this could take around four hours.

Rivera said after he finishes work, contractors will usually be ready to fix it up to sell or rent.

Meanwhile, Rivera is on to the next job.