After Harvey, 100+ debris dump sites pop up around town

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Friends Howard Otis and Victor Hebert are taking a lot of pictures these days, but none of the images are pretty. Instead, they are pictures of debris truck after debris truck dropping off at the landfill across the street from their homes.

"I do remember it being a landfill," said Otis, who has lived on and off in the neighborhood near Tanner Road for years. "But I never remember it being like this."

The men are upset, they say, because the Hawthorn Landfill they live by has dramatically increased in activity since Hurricane Harvey hit.

"All day, starting at 6 in the morning I'm going to hear horns honking and trucks gathering and things like that," said Hebert.

The reality is, the increased activity is just part of a statewide plan to speed up storm debris removal. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has established more than 100 sites across the region where Harvey hit as Temporary Debris Management Sites. Some of these locations are already landfills; others are industrial areas that can accommodate large commercial trucks. All locations are managed by local authorities.

"What happens is that the trucks go to the debris management site, [the debris] gets reduced, sometimes ground and compacted, and we take that to a final location," said Josh Stuckey, the deputy incident commander for Harris County.

Stuckey is only responsible for Harris County debris sites. The City of Houston manages dozens of additional sites. Regardless, he assures nearby residents the uptick in activity won't be forever.

"These are temporary sites, please be patient. Obviously we are there to help their neighbors right now," he said. "This helps to get the debris off their neighbors' homes as fast as possible, so please be patient."

But for Heber, the finish line can't come soon enough.

"I don't want to live there with all that mold growing," he said.

When not used as a debris site, the Hawthorne Park Landfill is normally operated by Waste Management. The company says the landfill first opened in 1994.

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