HOUSTON – On a southeast Houston street near a home that often finds itself on water’s edge, Joan Austin used her rake to clear out another drainage ditch under the threat of an approaching storm.
“Nothing but bags and bags of garbage,” said Austin while shaking her head in apparent frustration. "In this area it will flood. I've seen about four floods in this area."
Her neighbors have also seen floods, along with drainage ditches and storm drains often clogged with debris.
Larry Mckinzie described the junk he often finds.
“Home debris, furniture, old TVs,” he said.
It's a problem in neighborhoods all across the city, with debris choking off crucial culverts that allow the water to rise.
"We all take care of our properties and when it rains, we get standing water in our yards,” said Stephanie Ashley.
"The water is sitting in people's living rooms, neighborhoods, and cars,” added Travis McGee.
Much of the problem is often traced back to illegal dumping.
City officials say the Department of Public Works sends out special teams of workers every week to clean storm drains and ditches.
They say the city’s Department of Neighborhoods also pitches in, but that property owners share in the responsibility for keeping the areas clear of debris.
Officials advised people to call 311 to report debris requiring urgent attention.
Homeowners like Austin contend they’re already doing their part.
“I’ve been cleaning it up for 35 years,” said Austin.