State officials Thursday announced a $90 million fund to help communities still cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey pay for the costs of debris removal.

The money is from the state’s Solid Waste Disposal Fees Account, which is part of the general revenue fund, Gov. Greg Abbott said.

The money is meant to help cities and counties cover their portion of matching funds that go toward the cost of debris removal. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the federal government agreed to pay 90 percent of debris removal costs.

“While there is still much work to be done to help rebuild Texas, the funds made available today will go a long way in helping mitigate the burdensome costs on communities for debris removal,” Abbott said.

He credited members of the Texas House of Representatives and the Senate for helping secure the money.

The funds will be administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, officials said.

With Hurricane Harvey now two months in the past, most local cities have completed debris removal efforts, but exact costs about how much local cities will pay have not yet been determined.

In September, Dickinson officials estimated that it would cost $11 million to pick up the many tons of storm debris that was piled along city streets.

As of Thursday, the city estimated it had picked up 170,000 cubic yards of debris. Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters on Thursday said the city was approaching the end of its work picking up storm debris.

Masters said the announcement of the state’s program comes as a relief for her small, devastated community, which she said might struggle to even pay the 10 percent portion of the debris removal costs.

“That’s a lot of money,” she said.

League City announced it had completed its debris pickup earlier this month. Friendswood is still conducting its debris pickup program and has not announced an end date, city spokesman Jeffrey Newpher said.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25 near Rockport, about 200 miles south of Galveston County. Over the following week, it dropped as much as 50 inches of rain on parts of the Texas coast, causing widespread catastrophic damage.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


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