Houston leaders authorize $60 million for debris cleanup

- Houston City Council has authorized a $60 million contract for its effort to continue removing the seemingly endless amount of debris on neighborhood curbs.

Homeowners in the Briargrove Park neighborhood continue to deal with the cleanup as the city says it is doing what it can to pick up all the trash.

"Talk about nasty -- it's been terrible," says Mary Ann Burke, who has been a west Houston resident for more than 40 years.

Burke is accustomed to floods. She even has a plastic tub designated for flood documents, whether that be from 2009, 2015 or 2016. But she says this flood was different.

"Heartbreaking, you know, my kids say, 'Mom hasn't cried yet,'" adds Burke.

With more than a month removed from Harvey's torrential rains, the better part of that month has been spent removing debris on top of debris on top of debris.

"It just builds up," says Burke. "There's a lot of stuff and we're having to strip it to the bare bones because the water was four or five feet in the house."

Meanwhile over at Houston City Hall, leaders have approved another $60 million to be used for debris removal, draining what Mayor Sylvester Turner calls Houston's own 'Rainy Day Fund.' But it is the state's $10 billion 'Rainy Day Fund' that's still in the mayor's view even after Governor Greg Abbott said the mayor has plenty of his own money to spend on recovery.

"If fifty inches of rain doesn't qualify for the 'Rainy Day Fund,' then I don't know what will," says Mayor Turner.

The undertaking is massive. six-to-eight million cubic yards of trash. The mayor is hoping to cut in half the FEMA estimate of six months for all of the debris in Houston to disappear from the curb.

Mayor Turner says more than 450 trucks are on the streets, running and dumping seven days a week.

"The plan has always been to do like three passes," says Mayor Turner. "You go once. You go twice because people are making repairs, continue to pull out sheetrock and put it on the curb, and then you go three times."

Burke says her trash has already been picked up once, but there's plenty more to be done.

"They're doing a good job, it's just that it takes time," says Burke.

The city is also developing a smartphone app for residents who still have debris in their yard to track when their trash will eventually get picked up. The mayor hopes to launch it by Friday, Sept. 29.

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