County still full of Ike debris

April 9, 2009 4:59:08 PM PDT
It's a long process to clean up debris after Hurricane Ike. Chambers County was flooded with debris after the storm and since then, there's been a lot of cleaning up, but there's still a lot to do. The rain is gone but what Ike left behind is still behind. Hot water heaters, a garden hose, a chair, a sofa cushion here, a whole sofa there, doors and floors, fences and flower pots. All of it was blown in by the wind and water. Now it is now just piled high and left blowing in the wind.

The giant piles of junk give you the sense that the work is in progress and someone is about to come pick these things up seven months after the storm. But as far as FEMA is concerned this is a finished job. All of these piles are Chambers County landowners' problem.

"I don't know if we'll ever get it cleaned up the way it was before," said Chambers County landowner Leroy Ezer.

Leroy and and his wife Norma have a gorgeous place miles from the bay in Chambers County. When Ike blew through, home debris from the Bolivar Peninsula surrounded their home. FEMA shoveled it away from the house, but across pasture land here, FEMA carefully looked for bodies, took out the hazardous materials and piled the rest high.

"They're like little pyramids all over," Norma told us.

Some of the ranch land is considered by FEMA to be 'unimproved.' That means FEMA is done.

"I don't think when people were laying this out, they had their heads out where the sun shines," said Chambers County landowner Ben Nelson.

Nelson doesn't have the huge piles, but the smaller ones he has are apparently not going to get picked up either. And while he isn't angry and will clean up himself, he clearly doesn't understand FEMA's policy.

"Why do they want to leave this along the shore lines to be taken back into the bay or someone else's property," asked Nelson.

Good question, but from FEMA all we get is policy is policy and they don't remove construction debris from ranch land.

"It's our plan to burn it when we can," Leroy admitted.

Amazingly though, and this was truly unexpected, Leroy and Norma aren't angry about the mess Ike brought and FEMA left behind.

"We have to do something for ourselves," Leroy said. "We can't expect the government to do everything you know."

"They have done so much, they really have," Norma said.

How often have you heard that? Thank you FEMA. Not to say they would turn down help, but it hasn't been offered. In fact Chambers County asked FEMA to remove all of the debris, but the agency turned the county down.

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