Tons of debris still needing to be removed from Buffalo Bayou

- Cleanup along Buffalo Bayou hasn’t stopped since Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of water into the Harris County drainage system.

More than 100,000 cubic yards of debris has already been cleaned up in Harris County and on the Buffalo Bayou. The hope is that by June, the debris removal will be complete just in time for the 2018 hurricane season.

"We’re cutting it, getting it out and we’re getting down some of the stuff that’s much larger," said Shane Hrobar, urban forester with the Harris County Flood Control District.

Work for these crew members out on the bayou hasn’t stopped.

“So it’s big timber," said Hrobar. "And that’s the other trick. It’s massive debris, so how do you get it out safely?"

Safety and access, just two of the challenges workers on the Buffalo Bayou are facing as the Harris County Flood Control District works around the clock to clean up Harvey’s mess.

"Anytime you start talking about public parks, higher use, high-density population, you have to work in and around people," said Hrobar.

Terry Hershey Park is where you’ll see some work being done right now. Six crews are positioned along the Buffalo Bayou in Harris County. The HCFCD is in charge of more than twenty miles of bayou debris from State Highway 6 to downtown Houston.

“Primarily, it’s all vegetative debris, down trees and such like that that the floodwaters knocked over," said Jeff Jowell, HCFCD chief inspector.

Jowell and Hrobar are overseeing the work being done along the Buffalo Bayou.

"Six-to-seven days a week, sun up to sun down until we get done," added Jowell. "We’re hoping to be done by June 1." And that’s when hurricane season begins.

Barges, chainsaws and excavators make the heavy work seem light.

"Yeah, they look kind of fun, kind of a mechanical bull, so to speak, on the front of it," said Jowell when watching a barge load up with tree debris.

But don’t expect this crew to beautify the bayou because that's not its mission. Functionality is the goal.

"That's what Flood Control was established for so that’s our primary goal is make sure that this bayou is functioning at peak capacity so when we get the next flood, it’s ready for it," say Hrobar.

The work continues to move downstream closer to downtown Houston where an estimated 15,000-to-20,000 cubic yards still needs to be removed.

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