New debris cleanup website draws fans, critics

Storm victims staring at piles of debris outside their homes can now click a link for cleanup in Houston.

HOUSTON - Storm victims staring at piles of debris outside their homes can now click a link for cleanup in Houston. 

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office launched a new interactive website that also shows users how many city debris removal trucks are working and where. However, not everyone cheered the site.

“Why did it take so long?” said DB Bhayt, whose home in west Houston’s Fleetwood community washed out a week after the family’s flood insurance policy lapsed.

They paid $2,000 for debris cleanup along with four other families nearby, Bhayt said.

Then, days later, they saw city crews roll in and do the same work for neighbors across the street for free.

“What can you do, man,” Bhayt said. “Smile through the pain as Meek Mills (a hip hop artist) says.”

“Harvey By The Numbers” is a website that is supposed to help victims understand what the city has done, is doing and will do as Houston bounces back from Hurricane Harvey. Their new debris removal map tracks trucks sent to help. You can plug in exact addresses, ask for debris pickup or see exactly how many trucks are where.  Address data entered helps the city concentrate crews on in-need areas, according to the mayor’s office.

Bhayt’s zone had 37 trucks, more than any other part of the city, Friday, according to the website. He is not impressed, though. He prefers all resources spent on cleanup crews.

“It’s pointless money being spent on tracking these trucks,” he said. 

Others saluted the website’s transparency.

“I think it’d be a great idea,” David Naqin said. “I’ve seen them move a lot of trash quickly. I couldn’t’ get into one subdivision there was so many trucks.”

The city’s website does not publish real-time information. Updates come periodically if not daily, the mayor’s office said. However, it helps city staff document expenses for federal reimbursement.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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