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Good news for Orange on debris pickup


Last updated 10/31/2017 at Noon

Dave Rogers

For The Record

Businesses and non-profits are in line for some long-awaited help with storm debris.

Homeowners whose Harvey mess doesn’t fit in FEMA’s cookie cutter could be next.

Orange County commissioners’ court voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the proposal for “Commercial and Faith-Based Organizations Hurricane Harvey debris pickup for one pass only.”

The five court members also voted unanimously to issue a “Notice of Intent” for private property debris removal (PPDR) on a case-by-case basis for residential properties only.

No schedule was announced to begin either operation.

Business owners, churches and other non-profits will have only one opportunity to have their debris hauled for free.

FEMA normally doesn’t reimburse for hauling non-residential debris but is making an exception “based on extent of the devastation” in Orange County, said Joel Ardoin, county environmental health director.

Leon George, the county’s deputy emergency coordinator who is working with Orange County vendor AshBritt on debris cleanup, said AshBritt will make one pass through the county and pick up debris from business and non-profit addresses “if it’s in the right of way.”

The City of Orange has its own debris contractor, D&J Enterprises, and began the bureaucratic process toward removing debris from commercial, retail and non-profit businesses Tuesday with a special city council meeting.

“They approved a motion for city staff to work through amending a contact agreement with D&J Enterprises,” Jay Trahan, assistant city manager, said. “We want to expedite it as soon as possible.”

Businesses and non-profits should monitor the city’s website and Facebook page for instructions, Trahan said.

Trahan said D&J is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 1 its second pass picking up residential debris the city of Orange.

Residents who cannot get their debris to the street in reach of the haulers’ grapples could get some relief from volunteers.

Commissioners OK’d Tuesday notice of intent to enter into an agreement with the Port of Orange to use the old Navy barracks to house up to 135 volunteers from faith-based and other non-profit organizations who come to town.

Groups like the Texas Baptist Men, the Southern Baptist Men, AmeriCorps and Team Rubicon are planning to assist help rebuild homes for low- and middle-income residents, Commissioner Barry Burton said.

“They each have their own vetting process,” Burton said. “They take applications and at least put up dry wall and insulation.”

Team Rubicon, an organization of 56,000 members comprised mostly – 70 percent – of U.S. veterans, was recommended to help with debris removal by a group of visiting group of experts.

The Texas Emergency Management Assistance Team (TEMAT), a state disaster recovery squad answering a State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR) and assigned to both Hardin and Orange counties, is working with Team Rubicon in Hardin County now.

“They’re top-notch. They get it done,” Kharley Smith of TEMAT said.

“Rubicon has agreed, if they have the people, to help with debris that homeowners haven’t gotten to the curb,” TEMAT’s James Gabriel said.

“But it’s very dependent on volunteers,” Courtney Goss of TEMAT said. “We could have 100 volunteers here next week or not have any.”

Joe Kaye of Team Rubicon said Tuesday afternoon his crews made 7,000 damage assessments in Hardin County to find the areas of highest damage concentration and is using heavy equipment to demo houses there.

“We have a heavy equipment program and a lot of operators,” Kaye said.

In a final debris note Tuesday, Ardoin announced the Orange County Landfill will continue to waive dumping fees to residents and open at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

But beginning Monday, because of the time change, the landfill will close at 5 p.m. daily.


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