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Debris pick-up update from Mayor Kevin Holland

Date: September 22, 2017

Message from Friendswood Mayor Kevin Holland:

I wanted to take a moment to share an update on how things are going and what the near future looks like.

First, a little background information; for many years, the City of Friendswood has had plans and contracts in place to help us get through a disaster and begin to recover quickly. Earlier this year, months before Hurricane Harvey, Friendswood City Council again approved those annual contracts which include specific FEMA-approved procedures and prices for debris removal.

Many people have asked, “Why aren’t we seeing more debris trucks in Friendswood now?” It’s a valid question that deserves an answer. As you know, not only have the people of Friendswood suffered unprecedented damage, but residents of Corpus Christi, Rockport, much of metropolitan Houston/Galveston, farther east--Beaumont/Port Arthur/Orange, some of Louisiana, and in much of the whole state of Florida (from Hurricane Irma), people are picking up the pieces and putting it at the curb. It’s heartbreaking.

Many of those big trucks with the claws to pick up debris are based in Florida. Our City’s contracts can’t force them to come here, so they are working where they are. We have “our share” of trucks and every day, City staff is trying to get more to come here. That’s a tough sell, but they will keep trying.

Trucks are working all over the City. What’s taking so long? Another good question. The debris from two to three houses fills up a claw truck/trailer combination. Then they drive to the landfill, have a certified estimator record how much debris they are dumping, offload, then drive back to where they left off. The trucks get paid by the cubic yardage of what they leave at the landfill, so it is in their best interest to take full loads, work long hours (quitting only when it is too dark to continue to work safely), and seven days a week. They will make multiple debris pick-up passes at each affected Friendswood home until all of the large debris is picked up. Following that, a clean-up crew will make another pass collecting all smaller pieces.

In 16 days, more than 31,000 cubic yards have been picked up in Friendswood. An estimated 118,000 cubic yards remain.  

In Friendswood and all of the other communities I referred to, this debris clean-up could take months. I’m asking for your patience and cooperation. Together, we will get through this.

Thanks for your time. God bless you, and God bless Friendswood.

Mayor Kevin Holland