Compiled by Joe Southern
As Fort Bend County (FBC) officials plan the long term recovery process, residents need to be aware that a majority of the disaster recovery planning is contingent upon confirmation of FEMA’s disaster declaration for FBC.
Federal disaster declarations require comprehensive damage assessments which take time to accurately survey due to the large numbers of properties involved and limited access from slowly receding flood waters. However, residents can begin the recovery process by pre-registering for disaster relief at disasterassistance.gov or calling 1-800-621-3362.
Residents are also encouraged to go to the FBC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) website at www.fbcoem.org to report damage on the provided residential report form. This form does not ensure reimbursement, but it helps FBC officials assess countywide damage estimates which helps with the disaster declaration determination.
For insurance purposes, residents should consider taking photos depicting the degree of flood damage and personal property loses. Photos highlighting waterlines and comparing damaged to undamaged property are desirable. Residents are also cautioned not to begin demolition projects prior to consulting your insurance agent.
Debris removal planning should follow proper guidelines outlined on the FBC OEM website which call for separate debris classifications for normal household trash, hazardous waste, appliances, electronics, vegetative debris, and construction/demolition debris. Residents are also reminded to try and locate debris piles as close to the curb as possible while still maintaining open roadway access.
Debris, dead animal removal
As flood waters recede and residents begin to re-enter their properties, debris removal will become the initial first step in the recovery process. Residential and commercial debris removal shall be separated according to refuse classifications comprised of normal household waste, vegetative, construction/demolition, appliances, electronics, and hazardous waste debris. Separated debris piles should not block the roadway and be placed as close to the curb as possible. Additional debris removal guidelines will be posted to the FBC Office of Emergency Management website within the next few days.
Stay out of standing water
Residents are reminded to stay out of areas with standing water as there are a variety of hazards that can cause illness or injury including snakes, fire ants, bacteria and hidden debris.
The Fort Bend County Commissioners Court authorized an extension of the Local State of Disaster Declaration through June 17. A local declaration ensures the response and recovery aspects of the emergency operations plan have been activated, and local resources are being utilized to the fullest extent possible.
“Over the weekend, we expect the mission of the Office of Emergency Management to change from response to recovery, “ said Judge Robert Hebert. “As water levels recede we will be able to get into these inundated areas and assess the damage.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Flood Program is working as intended. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Water Resources – Fort Worth District said, “We regulate 78 percent of the Brazos River. All projects are functioning as designed. There is still significant flood storage capacity in the corps reservoirs. We do not anticipate releasing flood storage into the Brazos River from the corps reservoirs to cause additional flooding. Significant flooding seen on the Brazos River is primarily the result of rainfall that has fallen on the unregulated portion of the basin below the Corps of Engineers Reservoirs.” Additional information can be found at the “Upstream Reservoir Levels and Releases” link at www.fortbendcountytx.gov/riverlevels.
Flood recovery assistance
Any residents in need of immediate flood recovery assistance can obtain help by calling the Greater Houston United Way Help Line at 211 where trained operators can help guide you to the appropriate resource by accessing an expansive database of recovery organizations. For the most accurate and up to date information, please visit www.fbcoem.org website or call 281-342-6185.
Governor declares disaster in 31 counties
Gov. Greg Abbott last week declared a state of disaster in Austin, Bandera, Bastrop, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Coleman, Colorado, Erath, Fayette, Fort Bend, Grimes, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Kleberg, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Lubbock, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Tyler, Walker, Waller, Washington and Wharton counties in Texas.
On May 27 Abbott elevated the activation level of the State Operations Center (SOC) in Austin and continues to urge all Texans to stay on high alert and immediately heed any warnings from their local officials related to this severe flood threat.
“As our state continues to face waves of severe weather and potential flooding, it is crucial that Texans remain vigilant and heed warnings and any evacuation notices from local officials in their areas,” Abbott said. “The State of Texas stands ready to assist all counties affected by severe weather and has dedicated the resources necessary to ensure the safety of those at risk. I would like to thank the first responders who have rescued residents from rising waters and ask all Texans to keep those affected in their thoughts and prayers.”