Local county judges say one of the biggest challenges they face after October flooding has been debris cleanup. Residents affected by the flood, such as on Harris Loop in Kingsland, have had to move almost all of their belongings to the street for removal. The Lower Colorado River Authority announced Oct. 29 it will give $100,000 each to Burnet and Llano counties to ensure public safety. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell
STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
Now that the floodwaters have subsided, Burnet and Llano counties face a new challenge: removing trash and debris.
Both counties will get in boost to those efforts from the Lower Colorado River Authority, which will provide $100,000 to each for cleanup.
The county judges will determine how best to use the funds “to ensure public safety,” according to the LCRA.
“This $200,000 will help these counties in removing debris from the rivers and lakes to ensure public safety,” said Phil Wilson, LCRA general manager. “While floodgate operations remain in effect at Mansfield Dam, at the base of Lake Travis, we believe it’s safe to begin debris removal.”
With so much work to be done, Burnet County Judge James Oakley said that decision might take weeks.
“I will work with the (county) commissioners to determine highest and best use,” Oakley said.
Llano County Judge Mary Cunningham also said a decision will take some time but was “thrilled” at the news.
“We’re thrilled and happy to have partners like LCRA to recognize the need and are generous with their help,” Cunningham said.
The LCRA money, she said, will help expedite the county’s cleanup efforts in other ways.
“The biggest impediment we have are policies of FEMA and the state,” Cunningham said. “So we can’t just go out and start doing stuff without making sure we qualify under the policies of the federal government and the state.”
The county, Cunningham said, is still required to have an open bidding process to award cleanup contracts if it wants reimbursement from outside agencies, which delay its efforts.
“If the county had $20 million, and we didn’t care about reimbursement, then we could pretty much do whatever we want,” she said. “But we’re not in that position, nor are most counties.”
Both counties have flood information posted on their websites to help with cleanup and recovery efforts.