Hurricane Harvey

COUNTY-WIDE STORM DEBRIS EFFORT COMPLETE

Hurricane Harvey left debris piled up in most Harris County bayous and creeks. Downed trees and other storm debris can impede stormwater flow, especially along natural forested channels. Removing this debris was a high priority for the Flood Control District and its Hurricane Harvey recovery effort. With strategic steps that were taken even before the storm in August 2017, this work was completed by October 2018.

  • A countywide total of more than 140,000 cubic yards (roughly 40,000 tons) was removed from hundreds of locations around Harris County, using in-house and contract crews.
  • In the months immediately after the storm, the Flood Control District removed more than 101,383 cubic yards of debris from across the county.
  • In September 2018, the Flood Control District completed removal of more than 25,000 cubic yards (7,042 tons or 642 truckloads) of debris on Buffalo Bayou, from State Highway 6 to east of the downtown area, using self-loading barges, backhoes and other equipment.
  • In October 2018, the Flood Control District completed removal of more than 14,000 cubic yards (3,978 tons or 327 truckloads) of debris on Cypress Creek.

While disaster-related debris removal is complete, the Flood Control District will continue to address channel debris  as part of its regular routine maintenance program.

Residents are encouraged to report bayou and creek blockages to the Harris County Flood Control District’s Citizen Service Center at https://www.hcfcd.org/contact-us/citizen-service-center/, or by calling (713) 684-4197. If possible, please:

  • “Drop a pin” to obtain and share coordinates of the blockage, or
  • Include the nearest street address
  • Include a photo!
  • Include email and/or phone contact information, in case Flood Control District personnel need help in locating the site

(Crews use heavy equipment to remove blockages.)

 

(Crews assess storm debris caught up in downed utility lines and vegetation on Buffalo Bayou.)

Typically, crews will access project sites via public easements such as bridge crossings. In some cases with limited public access, the Flood Control District may also seek a temporary right of entry from adjacent landowners to reach the channel. The Flood Control District also uses Unmanned Aircraft Systems to conduct aerial channel assessments.

So that personnel and equipment can reach the creekbed and our drainage easements, our crews may clear 10- to 12-foot-wide access paths to the creek in multiple locations. Where these paths cross private property, our contractor will obtain a written temporary right of entry from the underlying property owner. Then, in order to reach the blockages with the necessary equipment, our crews will clear limited portions of the streambank within our easement, upstream and/or downstream from the access points. Where access to our right-of-way is limited, access paths may be maintained for the future.

These access paths are generally chosen so as to reach the blockages with the least necessary amount of streambank clearing.

Because of the nature and size of the debris, some locations may require the use of heavy equipment. Crews will use smaller-track vehicles and small tractors for a reduced footprint whenever possible.

After the debris is removed from the channel, it may be temporarily stockpiled on the creek bank in multiple locations for collection and transportation to an appropriate disposal site.