By Joe Southern
Recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey are well under way in Fort Bend County as disaster centers open, roads clear and mountains of debris line the streets of flooded communities as residents begin to rebuild.
Judge Bob Hebert released video updates online last week and over the weekend to keep residents apprised on what has happened in the county related to recovery from the storm and flood. The following are highlights from his message:
The Stavinoha Bridge on Texas 99 over the Brazos River is open; one lane in each direction, which is the same configuration we had before the flood came. The one-lane configuration is to allow the contractor to get back to work as quickly as possible completing the construction project that is going to stabilize that north end of the bridge against the river.
Evacuation order lifted
The mandatory evacuation order with law enforcement discretion is moved down to 97 feet in the area behind Barker Reservoir. It allows them to let homeowners enter if they believe it is safe for them to enter, given whatever residual water remains, so I think everybody can access the properties now. If you can’t, that should be rectified. Give us a call at 281-342-6185 and advise us of your problem and we will get someone from law enforcement there and look at that problem and determine if we can give you some relief.
We’re putting larvicide out throughout the county to have mosquito control and we’re spraying nightly for mosquitoes. We also have traps in place around the county so we know where to direct the spraying. If we see the normal population mosquitoes out there we may not come into that area spraying because we’re concentrating in those areas we see a population bloom. We will eventually get to every area out there and we do not rule out aerial spraying if necessary. Our mosquitoes are small and irritable but the big ones blew in with the tropical storm. They won’t breed here because they’re saltwater mosquitoes and we’re a freshwater area.
Debris can be bagged, but large pieces should not be. No tires will be picked up, so if you got two or three old tires in the garage don’t put them out there with the debris. We cannot take them to these landfills.
Normal household trash will not be picked up. We need you to separate your household trash and put your debris out where we can see it is debris. Continue to separate your debris by categories – vegetative debris, trees and such; construction demolition debris; appliances and white goods; electronics and household hazardous waste. Those are the separations. It needs to be separated. If it’s mixed together we’ll again have to leave and go on to somebody else while you sort it, so please get that done.
All refrigerators, if you put it out in the street make sure it’s cleaned out and the contents must be put in your regular household trash. We cannot haul refrigerator with anything in it. It creates problems.
Please put your debris piles as close to the curb as you can get. Any debris placed between the sidewalk and your home will not be picked up. It must be between the sidewalk and the curb or between the road and the front slope of the ditch if you have no sidewalk. Please move your cars off the street. They cannot pick up debris over parked cars.
Statistics and information
Since Harvey came ashore we’ve have had four tornadoes on the ground in Fort Bend County. We’ve felt tropical storm winds for a sustained period of time. That’s winds greater than 40 miles an hour with gusts to 65. We’ve had a 10,000- to 30,000-year rain event. The important point is nobody can plan for a 10,000-year rain event. We’ve had approximately a 95-year flood on the Brazos River and we’ve had the Barker Reservoir overflow into the Canyon Gate/Kelliwood area.
We evacuated 49,554 structures. By that I mean we physically removed people from those structures that were endangered by one of those events that occurred there, mostly rainfall or river flooding. We had a total land area flooded at the peak of the event 186 square miles. That’s 21 percent of our county. That’s a huge area and most of that land was in the lower land around the rivers but some of it was in subdivisions that never thought they would see floodwaters driven by that 10,000-year rain event. At the peak we had 464 roads closed inundated by water. We’re now down to less than 45 and they’re all of the general vicinity of the San Bernard or the Brazos River.
We opened 19 area shelters and currently we have four shelters open. At our peak we had almost 5,000 people in shelters; we’re down now to less than 50.
We had 38 agencies assist in this emergency. We took over 25,000 phone calls at our phone bank here at OEM. We don’t have data on 911. We’re sure they took many, many, many more.
We had over 3.7 million visits to our website, FBCOEM.org, so people were staying informed and that’s a good thing.