Debris piled high in Houston neighborhoods following Harvey flooding

HOUSTON – For many of the thousands of Houston families who were victims of flooding, the pile of debris in front of their homes is an unwanted reminder of what they lost.

Outside Andrea Kahle’s Meyerland home, the debris is piled up from the foot of water they had in their lifted home.

“It just shows how much everybody lost, really,” Andrea Kahle said of the debris piles.

All over the Greater Houston area, the debris piles stretch out endlessly from street to street.

The removal of those piles is a monumental task for the City of Houston.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today that removing the eight million cubic yards of Harvey-related waste is a top priority. Turner said getting contractors to take the work has become a problem because Houston is not paying enough and debris-removal contractors have options.

“Companies are saying, ‘No. No thanks. We’ll head to Florida,’” Turner said.

Turner said companies told him that long drop-off lines at the landfills are also causing a problem for contractors.

"We're doing like three or four loads,” said Turner, recounting his conversations with contractors. “What we're expecting to do is seven or eight loads. They're saying what you all are paying is not worth it."

Turner said he's asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to raise the rates that the city can pay waste removal contractors for the long term.

For the short term, he is allowed to raise rates and will do so to get more debris-removal crews into the city of Houston.

"I do not want this debris to be on the ground for three to four months from now," Turner said.

A spokesperson from Houston’s Solid Waste Management told KPRC that they are adding crews every day using FEMA standards.

As for Kahle, she is looking forward to seeing those debris-removal trucks back in her neighborhood.

“I want my yard to be a blank slate,” Kahle siad. “I hope they come by very soon. They can't come soon enough.”

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