August 30, 2017

As We Begin Rebuilding

After two days of telling you we were still in response mode as Harvey stubbornly refused to leave us, I’m happy to report we have officially transitioned to the recovery phase.  The EOC is no longer a 24-hour operation, but of course emergency dispatch is always there and our normal public safety shifts have resumed.  While the Greater Houston area is draining nine trillion gallons of water and will be for weeks to come, the imminent threat of a repeat flooding situation in Bellaire has passed and we are now able to safely begin the process of rebuilding our homes and our lives.

Some things you need to know:

Solid waste and debris removal.  Area landfills have flooded, and that presents a problem.  So for the time being, regular solid waste services remain suspended.  Previously we’ve asked you to refrain from putting heavy trash, including flooded building materials and furniture, out at the curb.  However, now that we’re no longer concerned about repeat flooding it’s safe to do so.  Please just keep household trash separate from storm debris.  In preparation for events like this, the City has standing on-call contracts with FEMA-approved disaster recovery companies.  They’ll be out later today assessing the situation.  We’re hopeful we’ll be able to resume solid waste collection by the end of the week, and that the contractors will begin debris removal sometime next week.

Water and wastewater.  Our water has at all times remained safe to drink.  The wastewater treatment plant, however, sustained substantial flood damage.  Public Works operators are assessing the situation, but they've kept the system up and running.  As the flood waters have receded that's helped somewhat.  It's okay to flush toilets, take showers, and use dishwashers and washing machines, but please continue to do so thoughtfully to minimize unnecessary waste.

Repair and reconstruction permits.  The City Building Official and Development Services staff are here to help you.  They’ve begun distributing information concerning the process for obtaining repair and reconstruction permits.  Homeowners can do “make safe” work, like demolition and removal of flooded building materials, without a permit.  But permits are required for all repairs and reconstruction, and in certain cases FEMA regulations may call for additional documentation.  The City will waive all permitting and inspection fees for flood recovery work, and will be suspending enforcement of regulations on the use of PODS, dumpsters and recreational vehicles.

Curfew.  With the advice and counsel of the Bellaire Police Department command staff, I have ordered a midnight to 5:00 a.m. curfew until further notice.  This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly.  Given the vast number properties that have sustained damage and been left unoccupied and unprotected in the aftermath of this disaster, Chief Holloway and I agree that an overnight curfew is warranted.  The same curfew is in effect in the cities of Houston, West University Place and others in our area.

I have personally witnessed remarkable acts of selflessness and togetherness in these dark days, and encourage all of Bellaire to keep up the great work looking after and helping one other pull through.  We will emerge stronger than ever.