Post-Harvey help continues on

Published 8:15 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

By Ginger Broomes

The Orange Leader

Dewayne Carter, with Texas Baptist Men, presented a progress report on their charitable work since Harvey.

“We have 29 work teams from all over – even some from Guam and Hawaii – making a total of 357 volunteers that have worked here (rebuilding and repairing homes),” Carter said. “That’s a total of 14,760 hours worked, just since January of this year.”

He said that number did not include 94 additional people who also volunteered their time and resources preparing food for the construction volunteers, along with providing laundry and logistics support.

He stated that there was a fourth tractor trailer load of sheetrock on its way to the Orange area, with 49 more volunteers scheduled to be here in March. He thanked the county and the community for helping them store their supplies and having a place to set up, and for the show of support and cooperation as his group helps Orange rebuild.

“There is no criteria when it comes to helping people. The only criteria is need, and people all over the nation have donated to their organization to help Harvey survivors.”

Nicole Matthews with the organization IBTS – Institute for Building Technology and Safety – as the administrator for the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, spoke about the groups’ Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance program, which she said they are now bringing to Orange County, having already assisted neighboring counties. Working with our local emergency management, they are allowed to fund five homes for each community they work in for the program.

Matthews said they are taking applications from low to moderate-income homeowners for repairs of flooded homes, with no county or homeowner contribution needed.

The funds for the homes would be for repairs and/or reconstruction and also for environmental issues (such as mold) and elevation issues. Contact can be made through Michelle Tubbleville, Special Projects/Communications Coordinator with Emergency Management here in Orange.

Ralph Valenciano with Emergency Management updated everyone on the ongoing process of Harvey debris removal. He said that even though his department is not responsible for debris on the Texas highway rights of way, he continues to reach out to Texas Department of Transportation for an update on debris removal there. As of press time, TxDOT has not responded back.

Valenciano stated they have one truck operating in the county as of this date, to make another pass at debris pickup for the general public, but that debris will still have to be separated – new construction versus hurricane debris, and that his office would be releasing guidelines on how to do so this week so citizens could get their debris picked up as well as a pick up schedule.

“If they are able to separate their new construction debris from their storm debris, it will then make their storm-generated debris eligible to be picked up,” Valenciano said.

The number to FEMA for said pick up is 409-745-9809.

Michelle Tubbleville updated the group on the newly formed Tri-County Disaster Rebuild SETX. She stated the group had just been approved for a grant that would fund them $250,000. The majority of funding will be to buy rebuilding materials with very little for overhead.

Another meeting is scheduled for this group at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Expo Center located on FM 1442 in Orange. The meeting will be to determine board members for the disaster group.

The court also gave approval for the 163rd District Court to purchase an audio visual system to be used in the courtroom for the amount of $4,594.82, an item initially presented last year but tabled due to Harvey.