Harris County to Hire Debris Removal Companies for Future Storms

Original Post: Chron | Zack Despart | July 30, 2018

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday plans to approve a $7.1 million contract to hire two debris removal firms for future storms.

The companies would not be paid unless a storm makes debris removal necessary, and would only perform work along bayous and other land owned by the Harris County Flood Control District.

John Watson, the facilities maintenance department manager for the flood control district, said Harris County has kept a debris removal company on retainer since Hurricane Ike in 2008, which makes the recovery process smoother because a firm is already lined up to begin work. Watson said the county has exercised those contracts four times: the Tax Day Flood, Memorial Day Flood and hurricanes Ike and Harvey.

Engineers hope to finish Harvey debris removal by August, Watson said. Crews still are yanking logs from bayous and removing vegetation that floodwaters wedged beneath bridges.

“The floods eroded banks and washed a lot of debris into the channels,” Watson said, adding that the county has spent $6.5 million on that cleanup contract to date.

The $7.1 million estimate for 2018-19 debris removal is just an estimate, Watson said, which could be exceeded if another major storm strikes the region during that period.

One of the hired firms, Disaster Recovery, Inc., is based in north Texas. The other, Phillips & Jordan, is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn. The contract can be renewed annually for up to four years.