Officials with Houston's Solid Waste Management Department announced a schedule for the final 30-day effort to collect debris left in the wake of a May 16 derecho storm.

The backstory

Houston City Council approved three-year prepositioned contracts at a May 29 meeting with DRC Emergency Services; TFR Enterprises; and CERES Environmental, Ashbritt Inc. to provide debris removal services for the SWMD for disasters that occur over the duration of the contract. Cities are encouraged to use prepositioned contracts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which advises that they can be used to provide immediate debris removal after a disaster occurs.

Houston started the first pass of debris collection related to the derecho storm on May 20, traveling to single-family homes and neighborhoods to clear fallen trees from streets and roadsides. The first pass ended June 30, and the contracted crews were working daily to remove debris over that time, officials said, with 183 trucks in operation per day on average.

City officials estimate the storm—featuring straight-line winds of up to 110 mph—created 1.8 million cubic yards of debris throughout the city. As of June 26, officials estimate they have cleared 1.55 million cubic yards of debris.

The details

The second and final pass of debris removal will kick off July 8 and run for 30 days, city officials said in a June 26 news release.

Residents with debris are urged to follow guidelines to assist in debris removal and processing:
  • Separate storm debris from other bulk waste.
  • Ensure tree trunks are 2-3 feet or less in diameter and 3 feet or less in length.
  • Ensure tree branches are 6 feet or less in length.
  • Ensure debris piles are within 10 feet of private property lines.
What's next

Collected debris is taken to one of four temporary collection sites for reduction. All vegetative storm debris is processed through wood chippers and grinders, and debris sites are watered to prevent fires and reduce the spread of dust to nearby neighborhoods.

The entire effort of collecting and processing the debris is expected to last until around Aug. 20, barring weather setbacks that produce more debris.

Residents should report all storm debris to 311 or online at