HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - A massive flood debris dumpsite off Highway 6 in west Harris County is a crucial part of the clean-up effort.
But neighbors who lost their homes say they’ve been through enough already.
“Every day it starts to smell,” said neighbor Jose Marrufo.
Marrufo lives in neighboring Pine Forest Village. It’s a subdivision where every single resident lost their home.
They say the trash heap compounds the tragedy.
“I think find another place far away,” Marrufo said.
Loretto Semanko and Jerry Marks are two other neighbors. Their concerns include potential health hazards.
“What are the risks here?” Semanko said. “What are the risks of returning here? How is the debris being handled?”
“'Cause we have coyotes, raccoons, possums,” Marks said. “All of the wildlife are now behind our home and coming to visit.”
KHOU 11 News contacted Harris County Engineer John Blount. He said this dump includes no household waste, rotting food or hazardous material. It’s only debris collected from neighborhoods, including those nearby.
Blount said a staging area like this is necessary so that debris can be compacted before heading to a larger landfill. Flood-damaged belongings would sit in yards and streets for weeks or months without the collection site and nine others across the county.
“Well, I can understand that, but it’s behind our community now and what is the risk for us here?” Semanko said.
Blount said the county’s goal is to have this garbage gone by the end of November.
“I hope so,” Marrufo said.
It’s something neighbors say can’t happen soon enough.
Coincidentally, we’re told the county actually purchased the land where the debris staging area is located just days before Harvey hit. It was previously owned by Katy ISD as a possible site for a future school.