Montgomery County commissioners approve resolutions to start storm debris cleanup

Darren Hess, director of Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, details the cleanup operation following Tropical Depression Imelda during the Sept. 24 Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting.

Darren Hess, director of Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, updated the court Tuesday morning about the number of flooded homes and inches of rain some parts of the county received.

“The system dumped 32 inches of recorded rainfall countywide, but the heaviest was East Montgomery County. We saw more rain in a 24-hour period than we did in four-day Harvey totals,” said Hess.

Hess added that about 1,200-plus homes were damaged from Tropical Storm Imelda, with about 100,000 cubic yards of debris that will have to be picked up.

County commissioners approved extending the disaster declaration from 7-30 days.

The second resolution approved had to do with emergency response costs.

“We made some authorizations where we had to enact shutting the County down, call in some employees to work, and some contingency funding to offset some of those immediate emergency response costs,” said Hess.

The third resolution approved, which Hess said will hopefully provide some immediate relief for families who are trying to restore their lives, is the approval of a debris contract. Hess said they’ll start rolling out trucks in about seven days to begin the cleanup.

“We have contracts in place and what we’re anticipating is that there will be a federal declaration for this storm. Right now early reports indicate that this is going to be the fifth largest flooding disaster in the United States history,” said Hess.

Hess said the County has earmarked about $2 million right now to start the debris cleanup, and he said that they hope to get 75 percent of those funds back if FEMA declares this a federal disaster.

“It’s heartbreaking and it’s heart-wrenching to see some of it. You have to look; sometimes it doesn’t look like any of them (homes) are damaged, but the water was there. It came up and now it’s receded, and it left the damage inside the home. They’re mucking out their homes now and putting it on the curb,” said Pct. 4 Commissioner James Metts.

Metts said the approval of the debris cleanup will be somewhat helpful, but some folks did flood during Hurricane Harvey and just got their homes repaired; now they flooded again. Metts added that other folks who have never flooded were flooded during Imelda.

“There are a lot of firsts with this storm, but when you get 30 inches of rain in 24 hours, you heard the numbers in court today, some places 32 inches, it’s overwhelming,” said Metts.

A shelter at the East Montgomery County Senior Center, located at 21679 McCleskey Road in New Caney, is still open. Metts said as of Tuesday morning, just over 40 people were still in the shelter, and they will keep that open as long as needed to assist folks.

Pct. 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden said deputies are conducting patrols day and night around the flooded neighborhoods to try and keep the people’s homes safe from looters.

“The deputies have ice chests in their vehicles. They’re providing drinks to them. These people are working during the day. They’re hot, so we’re just trying to give them a little bit of comfort,” said Hayden.

Commissioners Tuesday morning approved removing the burn ban.

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