- Dallas may become the latest Texas city to send municipal equipment and crews to help Houston with post-Harvey debris cleanup in the coming weeks, as reported by Dallas News. The Dallas City Council is scheduled to vote during its Sept. 27 meeting on a proposal to update a mutual aid agreement with Houston and send public works assistance for an expected 30-day period.
- Last week, Austin sent 17 workers to Houston for similar assistance. The Austin Resource Recovery crew departed with a fleet of cranes, roll-off trucks, dump trucks, front-end and rear loaders, as reported by the Statesman.
- A contingent of San Antonio municipal workers have also arrived in Houston. Including Austin's fleet, this meant an estimated 150 trucks were working to clear debris last week from the two cities last week, as reported by ABC 13.
Faced with an estimated 8 million cubic yards of waste to collect, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has put out a call for assistance from anyone that can provide it — and his Texas neighbors have been quick to step up. The state has also waived some environmental regulations to expedite the process. Even with this additional assistance and other fleets from private contractors the process is still a slow and laborious one. For many residents that want to start rebuilding their homes, let alone some sense of normalcy, it can't happen fast enough.
Turner has estimated this could cost upward of $200 million and has also proposed a property tax increase to subsidize the expense. Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and any other municipalities that provide aid will be reimbursed with federal funds. As shown by the need for financial approval from the Dallas City Council the decision to send crews to Houston still comes with upfront costs for travel, lodging, fuel and other expenses. Residents in these cities may also see a decrease in services such as bulk collection and street sweeping for the next month or more.
Since Harvey had devastating effects in communities well beyond the coast, many Texans appear more than willing to volunteer their time and resources in any way they can. The private waste industry has also played a role in this by helping residents during the storm, donating money to relief funds and working to resume standard curbside service as quickly as possible. With the debris cleanup projected to take many months this serves as a reminder of why mutual aid agreements and strong relationships between cities are valuable. Less than two months ago the top item on Houston's waste agenda was a new recycling contract. Since the storm, any discussion of that contract has been put on hold as the city deals with far more serious issues.