Congressman Ted Poe sent a letter of request to President Bush to grant an extension to the original Federal Grant issued for debris removal assistance in Jefferson County. The proposed extension would allow for an additional month of funding at 100% to aid in the countys recovery operations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last week announced a Federal grant for the State of Texas associated with Hurricane Rita. The original funding includes $32,640,000, to Jefferson County to assist with debris removal throughout the county as a result of the damage caused by Rita and goes through October 27, 2005.

FEMA reminds private property owners, caution is key when removing hurricane debris. Debris removal and disaster recovery go hand in hand. Federal and state recovery officials encourage residents to be cautious when removing storm debris from homes and roadways. The rubbish may contain any number of dangerous items.

Property owners will want to check with their local jurisdictions regarding debris removal schedules.

Here are some safety guidelines to follow:
  • Keep children away from debris piles. They can be full of broken materials, glass, nails, jagged wood, and other sharp items. Children can easily get injured playing in, around, or on trash heaps. The debris may also contain rodents or bugs, raising the possibility of bites.
  • Watch children carefully when heavy equipment is in the area and debris removal operations are taking place. Small children may not be easily seen by equipment operators.
  • Keep all open flames and lit cigarettes away from debris piles as they may contain flammable materials.
  • Move your car from the debris pile area. This will make it easier for the equipment operator to pick up the materials and will reduce the possibility of damage to vehicle.
  • Drive carefully when behind debris-loaded trucks. Materials can easily shift and fly out, causing an accident or driving hazard. Leave a safe distance between your car and the truck.