Cost of storm cleanup efforts mount in hard-hit areas

For the past several weeks a three-man crew has been crunching storm debris that fell in several Cedar Park neighborhoods.

Calling it a small grind would be an understatement for Felipe Sanchez and his team. "Oh, it’s a lot of job," said Sanchez.

They are not close to being done yet. "I don’t know, where we finish, where we work, there is a lot of work to be done in Cedar Park," said Sanchez.


To pay for the extra contractors to help its public works department, the Cedar Park City Council approved a $100,000 budget supplement. That money will be added to a growing federal reimbursement request, according to Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale.

"When you look at the statutes on emergency directives there's very specific things in there and it’s interesting that one of them is debris removal," said Mayor Van Arsdale.

The storm bill is expected to be big, but the mayor is not worried a local tax hike will be needed to cover it. "No way, we've cut the property tax rate the last 8 years in a row, and we are planning on doing that again, so no we are not doing tax increases for this," said Mayor Van Arsdale.

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A map posted on the FEMA website shows how in essentially every Texas county, applications for individual assistance are being taken. Federal assistance for public entities is limited, mostly to counties on the eastern side of the state.

"I would say we are probably in the same boat with a lot of other people," said Leander Mayor Troy Hill.

Leander, like other Texas towns hit by the storm, is still crunching the numbers. "You know everything from overtime for first responders, to tree and brush removal to the cost of buying truckloads of bottled water when we lost our water plant. So all those things will be put together and we will come up with an amount we deserve to be reimbursed for," said Mayor Hill.


By the time checks start to arrive, the storm clean-up in neighborhoods could be a distant bad memory.

In a recent hearing at the Texas State Capitol, state emergency management director Nim Kidd warned getting additional state grant programs may not be available until next year. That's why going after power generators that didn't properly winterize is also a consideration.

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"Certainly from our perspective that our water plant was taken down, and the amount of stress and just putting us in a bad situation, that did, it can't happen again, so whatever we have to do, to make sure it doesn't happen again, we are going to do," said Mayor Hill.

As for the possibility of joining a class-action lawsuit, Mayor Hill had this response: "I don’t think anything is ruled out at this point."

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For individual families, the Austin Disaster Relief Network is still helping with clean-up, but the organization this week has also started to shift into long-term recovery aid. Families seeking information about long-term disaster relief support are advised to call ADRN’s Survivor Hotline at 512-806-0800 or click here.