A major debris removal contractor has substantially decreased its presence in Dickinson after complaining the state was undercutting its market and leaving it without enough work in a city badly flooded by Hurricane Harvey, a company official said.
But city officials say there’s still much debris to be removed and work to be done.
“We’ve probably still got 70,000 cubic yards of debris,” Dickinson Police Department Capt. Steve Krone said. “There’s still plenty of debris left.”
CrowderGulf Disaster Recovery & Debris Management’s decision to pull back comes at a time when the Texas Department of Transportation has pledged more support.
With the state increasing the number of its crews and trucks for debris removal work, CrowderGulf reduced its Dickinson presence by about half, from as many as 16 trucks to eight.
Clayton Young, a senior project manager at CrowderGulf, said the group released some subcontractors because there wasn’t enough work to justify them staying in the area.
“Basically, we about had the job complete and there’s not a lot of debris on the ground right now,” Young said. “Our subcontractors, they have to make a day’s wage. There isn’t enough to keep them busy.”
Young confirmed that CrowderGulf had been unhappy that state crews were working in the area, however, and at one point, threatened to leave if the state didn’t.
“We were definitely up in arms at the beginning,” Young said. “Because we were doing such a good job, it was unnecessary to have them come in.”
Krone said he understood that some subcontractors left for higher paying jobs in other areas.
“They were leaving to go to other jobs,” Krone said. “They were offering more money.”
Private debris companies get paid based on the amount of debris they haul. CrowderGulf’s contracts typically outline payments based on the type of debris that will be moved, how far it is moved and how much of it there is — without putting a cap on a total payment number.
When The Daily News asked whether CrowderGulf’s decision cut back in Dickinson was monetary, Young responded, “It’s not philanthropy.”
Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 in Rockport, about 200 miles south of the county. Over the next several days, the storm dropped more than 50 inches of rain in some areas of Southeast Texas, leading to devastating floods that displaced thousands of people from their homes.
CrowderGulf is a major contractor that has worked in many parts of the county after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The Texas Department of Transportation stepped in to help with debris cleanup after Dickinson officials requested it, area spokesman Danny Perez said.
“We responded to these requests by providing crews and equipment in areas such as Dickinson,” Perez said. “We have local TxDOT crews as well as crews from other parts of the state supporting local municipalities in these efforts with the hope of improving conditions in impacted communities.”
Young denied that the state’s involvement directly contributed to the company’s release of several subcontractors in Dickinson.
“No one left because TxDOT came in,” Young said.
At a news conference in Dickinson last week, Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed the Texas Department of Transportation would be able to help with debris removal.
“We definitely can provide more resources,” Abbott said.
Abbott’s office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday and referred The Daily News to the Texas Department of Transportation.
CrowderGulf didn’t leave but company officials did express their thoughts on the state assistance to the city, Young said.
“We had to kind of lock down,” Young said. “They were bringing so many crews and it was kind of unnecessary and they were kind of stepping on toes where it wasn’t needed.”
CrowderGulf originally expected to pick up between 750,000 and 1 million cubic yards of debris in Dickinson as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
Crews in Dickinson have moved more than 180,000 cubic yards of debris and expect to pick up 70,000 more cubic yards, Krone said.
CrowderGulf holds no hard feelings against the state, Young said.
“It’s just the state’s time to help, and I get that,” Young said. “We are happy to have them in there at this point.”
The transportation department has 27 trucks in Dickinson, and each can carry 10 cubic yards of debris, Krone said. CrowderGulf’s eight trucks can handle about 70 cubic yards of debris each, he said.
Even if CrowderGulf was upset about the state’s involvement, it didn’t affect the debris removal process, Krone said.
“Boots on the ground, we’ve never really seen any difference here,” Krone said. “The people working, we never missed a beat.”
The final pass of debris in Dickinson will begin on Oct. 25, Krone said. Anything placed on curbs after the final pass will have to be disposed of by homeowners individually, he said.