Austin Resource Recovery continues to pick up 'unprecedented' amount of storm debris

Many residents are still waiting for Austin Resource Recovery to pick up storm debris over two weeks after the ice storm hit. 

Some neighbors say the branches are a bit of an eyesore, but they understand that crews have a lot of places to get to.

One South Austin resident had a tree damage his roof.

"It was like 11 o'clock at night and all of a sudden the house just, boom! and it shook and we were in bed, and it was kind of scary," Aaron Zinn said.

He says he's from Chicago. "The trees here are a little bit more fragile than they are in other parts of the country," he said.

Stacks of branches line the streets in many parts of the city.

"It's a little unsightly," resident Nikki Birdsong said with a laugh. "Somebody had something like at the corner, and it was actually hard to see around to turn."

The following is information from the city:

"Austin Resource Recovery (ARR), a department of the City of Austin, is collecting unprecedented storm debris from the 2023 winter storm. In just one week of collection, the total tonnage of material collected from the 2021 winter storm was exceeded.  

With the combined forces of 70+ staff and contracted crews, ARR anticipates it will complete the first of several passes through the city collecting storm debris by the end of first week of March. Many areas will likely require a second or third collection to clear all storm debris, and ARR expects those will be completed by April 30, 2023. After that, ARR will change focus from broad passes through the city, and continue collections as needed, strictly through special storm debris collection requests made through Austin 3-1-1. This will continue through June 30, 2023. 

By February 16, more than 34,828 tons of storm debris were collected through 4,985 truckloads. ARR estimates that its first pass through the city is roughly halfway completed.  

Currently, storm debris collection routes are based on the volume of service requests in a given area. ARR uses 3-1-1 service requests in an area as a guide to determine which neighborhoods/regions have material set out and ready for collection and should be serviced first. Still, ARR will collect all storm debris from its customers – that is properly placed at the curb – on that same street regardless of a request being submitted for a specific address.  

ARR will only collect storm debris from its curbside customers (single-family homes, duplexes and four-plexes in Austin). If someone is unsure if they are an ARR customer, they can search their address online. If the address does not show up as an ARR customer, the name of their hauler is typically imprinted in their trash and recycling carts; that is who they should contact for storm debris removal options. 

Regardless of whether they are ARR customers, Austin and Travis County residents can also drop off storm debris (large tree limbs, small and large branches, shrubs and leaves) at Austin Water's Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant (2210 FM 973, Austin, TX): get operation times and drop-off details. More than 3,500 loads of storm debris have been dropped off at the facility by residents, weighing in at 1,382 tons through February 16. 

Operations in some city parks 

Austinites should be aware that some city parks (Circle C Ranch Metro Park, Bolm District Park and Old Manor Road) are being utilized as a temporary storage areas for ARR contractors to clear large tree limbs and branches from neighborhoods. After it’s brought to the park, storm debris will be ground into mulch and transported to Austin Water's Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant, where it will be used to create Dillo Dirt. ARR is working with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to minimize the impact on park operations. The use of these locations is helping ARR speed up storm debris collection efforts by providing a nearby place for truckloads of debris to be emptied. These locations will be active until storm clean-up is complete, and then parks will be returned to their normal state. 

These are not a public drop-off locations, and contractors must have a City-issued contract and approval for use. Verification of credentials is required for drop offs.  

ARR thanks Austinites for their patience as it works to restore our community."

"I know they're overloaded right now. I hope they're going as fast as they can. Obviously, I would like them out of here sooner rather than later," Zinn said. "At the end of the day, I just feel bad for the tree."

"It would be nice for it to be gone, it doesn't look great," Birdsong said.

In the meantime, neighbors like Zinn are doing what they can as they wait for both debris pick-up and repairs.

"All the roofers are super busy right now, so we're on the list," Zinn said. "Just try to make your stack as neat as possible and tidy as possible, that's all I could do."