Judge: Harvey aftermath will persist for weeks in Fort Bend County

RICHMOND, TEXAS (KTRK) -- Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert advised residents and community members during a commissioner court meeting Tuesday that even though Hurricane Harvey has left the region and the floodwaters are starting to recede, the county is still in a state of emergency.

"Our emergency declaration was two weeks...We will have to extend it," he said.

Hebert said the county is now entering a recovery mode that will consist of debris management, damage assessment and addressing disaster recovery issues.

Recovery mode
Representatives from the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management provided commissioners with updates on the aftermath of the hurricane and flooding that the county must address.

"...Nearly 22 percent of our county was flooded at its peak," said Jeff Braun, emergency management coordinator for the OEM. "At one point, we had 29 different shelters open in the county. We are now down to three shelters."

The county's recovery consists of three elements-damage assessment, debris management and addressing disaster recovery issues.

"A longer-term more detailed damage assessment will be done over the next week and a half," Braun said.

Debris pickup trucks were deployed earlier this week, and more will be fully operational and deployed by Saturday, according to Hebert. Hebert said residents should sort their debris accordingly and not to place any debris in plastic bags, or it will be left on the street.

Hebert said the trucks will make multiple trips to houses with debris and that if any debris are left residents should be aware the trucks will eventually come back again.

"...We will be in front of every house that has debris at least three times during the process," he said. "...But it will be a matter of weeks before this is finished. Not days-weeks."

The third component to the aftermath of Harvey, addressing disaster recovery issues, consists of FEMA setting up disaster survival assistance teams and disaster recovery centers.

DSA teams go out into the community to help people register for FEMA assistance. Teams are presently stationed at the shelters at the Kendleton Church of God and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Rosenberg. The DRC's are for people who have already registered for FEMA assistance that have questions about a claim or need to submit additional paperwork.

"We are working to set that up, we have several locations in the county in mind (that) all in impacted areas," said Caroline Egan, disaster recovery manager for the OEM.

Egan warned that for those residents who applied for FEMA assistance and were denied that they should carefully read the denial letter.

"...A lot of times, the reason why they may be denied is just because they needed to submit an additional piece of paperwork that they did not do originally," Egan said.

Egan said individuals that do not qualify for FEMA assistance can register with a small business administration that will provide them with low interest loans.

Commissioners will hold a special workshop 4 p.m. Friday to further discuss the recovery process and financial implication on the county tax rate. The first public hearing on the county tax rate is set for Wednesday, Sept. 13 but is subject to change.

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