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Debris Removal by the Numbers Bookmark

Arduous, staggering, and monumental have all been used to describe post-Harvey cleanup efforts. In the wake of catastrophic flooding brought on by 30 to 50 inches of rain, many residents are wondering how long they will have to wait before their debris is removed. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple.

Here’s what residents need to know about debris removal:

• Debris removal crews will continue visiting each neighborhood until all debris is removed.
• In Precinct 4, nearly 11,000 homes flooded with more than 2 feet of water. Precinct 4 is currently clearing approximately 260 homes per day. At the current rate, the first pass should be completed in about three weeks, barring in unforeseen circumstances.
• More than 130,000 homes and businesses throughout Houston and Harris County flooded during Hurricane Harvey, generating an estimated 8 million cubic yards of debris. By comparison, Hurricane Ike left the area with more than 5 million cubic yards of debris. That’s nearly the same amount of debris caused by Hurricane Alicia (1983) and Tropical Storm Allison (2001) combined.
• As of Sept. 25, crews have picked up about 550,000 cubic yards of debris in unincorporated Harris County, which is about halfway through the first pass.

While crews will take as much debris as they can with each pass, they cannot remove debris further away than 15 feet from the curb. Residents with piles outside the designated pickup area will have opportunities to move debris closer to the curb after each pass.

To speed up cleanup efforts, residents should make sure all cars are removed from the street. Crews will not be able to remove debris blocked by vehicles or serve areas with vehicles blocking roadways.

Sorting debris into the following categories will also help debris removal go faster:
• Vegetative debris (no bags allowed)
• Construction and demolition debris
• Small and large appliances (should be emptied and taped shut)
• Electronics
• Household Hazardous Waste (paint, batteries, tires)

Clear bags may be used for all items except vegetative material. Place items in a pile in the right-of-way between the curb and sidewalk. Do not place debris near fire hydrants, gas meters, mailboxes, or in roadways or ditches.

Residents can also personally dispose of their storm debris by taking it to the Drop Off Site at 13928 Humble Road in Tomball off Highway 249. Proof of Harris County residency is required, and residents must accompany their load.

For additional information about debris separation, debris removal, and residential damage assessments, please call the Harris County Residential Debris and Damage Assessment Hotline at 713-274-3880 or email

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