Attorney General Opens Investigation into Several Debris Removal Companies

In connection with Rebuild Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton opened an investigation into a number of debris removal companies. Spurred by a referral from Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp, the investigation is examining agreements between companies and local governments relating to professional debris removal efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

“I have asked General Paxton to open an investigation into some debris hauler’s activities in the wake of Hurricane Harvey,” said Chancellor Sharp, who leads the governor’s Rebuild Texas initiative. “While some haulers have done a remarkable job, I have serious concerns about others’ activities that I have relayed to General Paxton. It’s time to find out why some are moving too slowly, and why some are refusing help that would remove debris faster.”

“Debris removal companies may be overpromising and under-delivering,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Texans are working hard to clean up after Hurricane Harvey and these companies should do the same. They cannot sign contracts with local governments, and then change the price or not deliver services.”

Attorney General Paxton’s office is examining the representations made regarding these debris removal efforts and whether the companies at issue are fulfilling their performance obligations.  Local governments impacted by these practices are encouraged to contact the Texas Attorney General’s office and report their experiences.

FEMA Job Fair for Hurricane Recovery October 28-29

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will host a job fair Oct. 28-29 to hire Texans to work on Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery.

The job fair will be held at 1309 Rutherford Lane in Austin from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  More than 300 jobs are available, with pay ranging from $14 to $37 per hour, depending on the position.

Some of the positions include American Sign Language interpreters, bookkeepers, accountants, auditing clerks, certified deaf interpreters, civil engineers, claims adjusters, examiners, couriers, messengers, customer support representatives (multiple languages), disability integration advisors, GIS specialists, graphic designers, writers, IT specialists and administrative assistants, among others. All are temporary full time positions.

Job seekers should bring copies of their resume and be prepared to be interviewed. Attendees are strongly encouraged to pre-register by emailing a resume to fema-dr4223TX-localhires@fema.dhs.gov with the subject line “pre-registration.”

All attendees should bring either a valid driver’s license and Social Security card or a passport. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and be able to pass a background check to be considered for employment. If job seekers are unable to attend the job fair and would like to apply they can visit www.workintexas.com and search “FEMA” under the “search all jobs” option.

TEA provides online avenue for technology and instructional materials donations to Hurricane Harvey school districts

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath has advised that school systems needing instructional materials—either because of enrollment of students displaced by Hurricane Harvey or from property damage caused by the hurricane—can create an online list to inform potential donors of those specific needs.

At the same time, individuals, organizations, school systems and other entities wishing to donate instructional materials to help fulfill those specific needs can do so by visiting the Texas Education Agency’s Instructional Materials Assistance web page: https://tea.texas.gov/Academics/Hurricane_Harvey_Instructional_Materials_Assistance/.

“Many school systems hit by Hurricane Harvey still have specific needs to help get them in a position to effectively educate children in their community,” said Commissioner Morath. “From the initial days of the hurricane, many people have stepped forward wanting to help. The TEA Instructional Materials Assistance web page provides a way to see what school districts truly need and then allow for those needs to be met.”

Commissioner Morath referred to the electronic system as a type of “wedding registry” where school districts can post their instructional materials needs in hopes of finding a donor that can fulfill those needs. Donors can elect to fulfill a district’s needs list completely or in part. The system (which utilizes the agency’s established educational materials ordering system known as EMAT) then updates the list to help avoid duplication of supply donations.

To date, 14 school districts have created needs lists in the system. The materials on those lists total approximately $1.2 million. The system has paired three potential donating districts with three districts in need. One district has already indicated all its identified needs are filled.

“These lists give you details that allow you to donate exactly what a district needs to best serve its students,” said Commissioner Morath.

Items on a district’s needs lists can be provided several ways:

  • Other Texas or out-of-state districts that own more of the specific listed materials than they need can work directly with a district in need to ship the materials to that district. (TEA will pay the shipping charges for in-state districts.)
  • Donors can purchase materials from publishers and donate them to a district in need, or they can donate money to the district and specify which materials it is intended for.
  • Other entities that have the needed materials available for sale at a reduced price (e.g., recycled book sellers) can contact a district in need with that pricing information.

The TEA Instructional Materials Assistance web page provides information (including instructional videos) on how to utilize the EMAT system to help affected school systems. TEA also provides an email option for non-districts to donate by emailing instructional.materials@tea.texas.gov.

To learn more about the TEA Instructional Materials Assistance web page and to upload a needs list or offer to fulfill an uploaded list, visit https://tea.texas.gov/Academics/Hurricane_Harvey_Instructional_Materials_Assistance/.

Governor Abbott Extends Suspension Of Rules Relating To Vehicle Registration And Inspection For Victims Of Harvey

Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday extended the temporary waiver suspending rules relating to vehicle registration and inspection for victims of Hurricane Harvey. This extension will allow Texans who reside in counties named in the federal disaster declaration to avoid penalties for failure to timely register a vehicle or obtain a vehicle inspection. This extension will help alleviate the regulatory burdens for Texans working to rebuild following this devastating storm.

“Trying to meet vehicle registration and inspection deadlines in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey should not be an additional burden on those still recovering,” said Governor Abbott. “It is important that the State of Texas eliminate as many burdens as possible to help struggling families and communities, and I thank the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for their flexibility and commitment to helping Texans in their time of need.”

The Governor will work with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and Texas Department of Public Safety to help ensure that law enforcement officers throughout the state are aware of this extension.

The suspension is set to last for an additional 30 days. For additional information Texas should contact the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles at (888) 368-4689.

Recovery Spotlight on Refugio County

When Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, it left a path of destruction in its wake. The trees and brush of the Coastal Bend sustained major damage causing approximately 215,000 cubic yards of debris in Refugio, Bee, Aransas and Goliad Counties.

Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and the Texas Department of Public Safety are working together to remove vegetative debris and help rebuild Texas.

These photos were taken on location in Refugio County by the Texas A&M Forest Service:

 

 

 

 

 

 

TxDOT Removes More Than 10 Million Cubic Feet of Debris

The Texas Department of Transportation has collected more than 10 million cubic feet of debris – or the equivalent of about 186 football fields – in the four districts most impacted by Hurricane Harvey since landfall Aug. 25. From Corpus Christi to Houston and numerous towns in between, TxDOT crews have worked tirelessly to help clear roadways and help citizens in their ongoing recovery efforts.“We continue to deliver much needed service to those communities seeking our assistance,” said TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams. “I am so proud of the men and women of TxDOT who have so selflessly given their time and energy to this clean-up effort, even while many of them continue coping with their own personal losses.”

More than 600 TxDOT employees working weekly rotations have been brought in from around the state to assist local employees with debris removal in the hardest-hit areas on the coast from Corpus Christi to Beaumont. At the height of the storm, more than 500 road closures impacted the state transportation system. Today, only one road — Park Road 1C in Buescher State Park in Bastrop County — remains closed due to damage. Additionally, more than 4,300 bridges were inspected following the storm and only 13 required some repair.

Of the 25 State of Texas Assistance Requests for debris removal TxDOT has received, work has been completed in 10 counties and cities.