HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Harris County Flood Control District officials said crews have made tremendous progress in the removal of Harvey debris from the county's bayou drainage system, and while there is still substantial work to be done on the Buffalo Bayou, they are pushing to finish by the next hurricane season.
Crews said they have removed more than 101,000 cubic yards of downed trees, tires and other storm debris that were clogging Harris County's bayous and channels in the six months since Hurricane Harvey sent almost a trillion gallons of stormwater through the drainage system.
Officials said with debris removal crews and storm debris contractors, the Flood Control District is close to completing a priority sweep of the county's 22 watersheds.
However, substantial work remains on Buffalo Bayou, officials said. Because the Flood Control District owns limited right-of-way, it is facing unique challenges in getting access with the equipment. Crews are using barges, chainsaws and excavators to remove debris from Buffalo Bayou from several public and private access points, per owners' permission.
Officials said they are hoping to remove between 15,000 and 20,000 tons of additional Buffalo Bayou debris by the start of hurricane season, which begins June 1.
The Flood Control District said although its crews are removing any debris that has washed up against any bridge, pipeline structure or utility, vegetative debris that is silted into slopes or bottom of the channel will most likely be left in place, as they are trying to focus on debris that is blocking stormwater conveyance. They added that other channels are not being "dredged."
What happens to the debris after its removed from the channel?
Flood Control District officials said after the debris is removed, it is typically staged along banks for disposal at appropriate locations. Within that debris is everything from refrigerators and other large objects to automobiles.
Officials said although the goal is to transport the debris as quickly as possible, sometimes it may remain stockpiled overnight or for several days.
Trail users in any areas where debris is being removed are asked to observe all warning signs and fencing in removal areas. In addition, drivers are asked to be cautious of equipment entering and exiting removal areas.
Aftermath Disaster Recovery Inc. was awarded a $4.73 million contract for the removal of the debris beginning Feb. 1, at which time it will be taking over from contractor Phillips and Jordan, which has been removing the debris since Harvey hit.
Residents are asked to report bayou and creek blockages to the Flood Control District's Citizen Service Center by calling 713-684-4197, or by clicking here.