Houston’s mayor says the city is rolling out new technology to help Houstonians report debris and keep track of the cleanup effort.
Mayor Sylvester Turner compared the new app, which he hopes to have live by Friday, to their pothole tracking tool they rolled out in recent years.
He said Wednesday that the city is moving “at an aggressive pace” to try and pick up what’s left behind by Harvey.
On Wednesday afternoon on a curb in East Houston’s Denver Harbor neighborhood sits nearly everything David Martinez cleaned out of his home of 50 years.
It’s a routine he’s grown familiar with.
“Flooding in the house, this is the sixth time,” said Martinez, who lives in the home with his wife.
Volunteers have been by, and so have city debris cleanup crews.
“My goal is to pick this debris up in record time and be the model for how it’s done across the country,” said Mayor Turner, during his customary news conference following the weekly City Council meeting.
Turner says FEMA officials originally told him cleaning up all of Houston’s debris would take six months.
“I’ve told my team that is unacceptable,” said Turner. “At a very minimum let’s try and cut that in half.”
On Sept. 20, Turner said the city had around 300 debris removal trucks out on the streets on average day. On Wednesday, he says that number has grown to 453 units, thanks to help from other cities and contractors. Eventually, he wants 500 trucks a day.
“For many people in the city, we’ve already made that first pass,” he said Wednesday.
Turner’s aiming to get to everyone at least once within the next 30 days, with trucks eventually making three total passes. The mayor is aiming to have it cleaned up by Thanksgiving, if possible.
“We know they’re busy, we know everybody wants it picked up, but they have been by,” said Martinez who says he’s been happy with the city’s effort.
Martinez also says despite this latest hardship, he considers himself one of the lucky ones on his street.
“Thank goodness I held on to my flood insurance,” he said. “I’m waiting for a check to see what I’ve got to work with.”
During the meeting, city council members authorized spending up to an additional $60 million for debris removal. City officials estimate the total cost of debris removal in Houston alone at $260 million. The city will pay 10 percent, or $26 million, of that amount, with FEMA expected to cover the rest.