Months after Harvey, maintenance workers and volunteers are continuing to work long hours to clean up silt, downed trees and other debris from Houston’s Buffalo Bayou.
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership, a non-profit group whose mission, according to its website, involves preserving and protecting Houston’s main waterway, is reportedly working to remove literal tons of debris from the bayou.
Since September, records show volunteers logged more than 3,000 man-hours to clear the bayou after the waters receded.
Much of this work is reportedly done by hand, as the Partnership’s Field Operations office took on 3-feet of water during the storm; administrative officials said the office contained many of the power tools workers used to keep the bayou clear.
During the storm, according to reports, the waterway channeled millions of gallons of water, leaving an unprecedented 70,000 cubic yards of sediment behind:
Buffalo Bayou Park in downtown Houston came out nearly 40 feet underwater, and Johnny Steele Dog Park, which reopened after the 2015 Memorial Day and 2016 Tax Day floods, remains closed, reportedly buried under several feet of silt.
During an interview, volunteer Carolyn Burton compared the cleanup efforts after Harvey to those after Hurricane Ike in 2009:
“The amount of silt is so much more in comparison,” Burton said. “All of the water had to recede first before they could clear it out to a point where we could even come in.”
Buffalo Bayou Park officials said they expect the silt removal alone will cost more than $1 million, and this estimate does not include the necessary removal of hundreds of dead trees.
The officials also said the storm also eroded soil under many of the footpaths that criss-cross the park, leaving them impassable in at least a dozen places and expected to cost thousands of dollars to repair.
“Our priority was to get the trails uncovered so people can use them,” Barbara Olson, president of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership said in an interview. “We’ve made great progress.”