After having to suffer the pain of Harvey reaching into their homes, storm victims are now being subjected to the indignity of scavengers picking through their discarded water-damaged items waiting for pickup.

Placing discarded items on a public right of way legally makes them available for others to collect. While digging through these piles may be legal by the letter of the law, we would like to strongly encourage people to understand how unnerving and personally invasive it can be to victims still reeling from the storm.

Simply put, scavenging through the results of another’s misfortune is bad form.

“There is nothing more painful than to look out your window and see you entire life sitting on the curb like trash,” said one victim to The Daily News during the floods.

The cities of Dickinson and League City were dramatically affected by flooding. An estimated 20,000 homes in Galveston County were damaged from flooding.

In League City alone, an estimated 7,700 homes, 23 percent of the city’s residences, were damaged.

While a month has passed since the storm, recovery crews continue to work to remove the monumental volume of debris resulting from residential flooding.

Meanwhile, League City police have received many calls about people picking through debris piles at night. And several residents have complained to Mayor Pat Hallisey about the same thing, he said.

Some people have dubbed the nocturnal scroungers “looters,” although their activity isn’t a crime unless they venture out of city rights of way and onto private property, officials said.

“At night, after they go to bed, evidently there are people who make it through these piles kind of picking out what they want to keep for themselves,” Hallisey said.

“People who don’t belong in that neighborhood are coming and taking what they want, and their ultimate concern is when they can’t get what they want at the curb, are they going to be coming in the front door?”

Beyond this personal impact, there are very real environmental and health issues to be concerned about. Items discarded due to water damage are sitting on curbs for a reason. The aftereffects of water damage can contribute to issues of bacteria and mold — both leading to the potential of serious health risks.

Bringing waterlogged items into your home is potentially putting your life and others in danger.

Galveston County residents may one day look back on the flooding resulting from Harvey with great pride, one where neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers was the norm. A moment to be proud to say the least. We certainly hope so.

But let’s remember that behind the pile of debris on the curb, a few feet away is a homeowner suffering the pain of seeing an entire life parked alongside the street. Let’s be neighborly and offer to help them — not add to their pain.

• Leonard Woolsey

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher of The Galveston County Daily News.

(14) comments

Elizabeth Beeton

This is recycling: it saves the taxpayers the cost of disposing of some of the debris and reduces volume in the landfill. Some things in the piles can be safely restored and reused. Does the paper really share Mayor Hallisey's fear that "people who don't belong in the neighborhood" may "be coming in the front door" if "they can't get what they want at the curb"? The editorial acknowledges that these aren't privately owned streets, but rather public ones maintained by the taxpayers; it isn't true that law-abiding citizens don't "belong there." The scavengers may themselves be victims of misfortune - too bad they are being demonized by the property owners, the authorities and now the newspaper.

Doyle Beard

La La land EB

PD Hyatt

What you do not realize is that there was much that we had put out there and we had NOT yet seen our insurance adjuster and stuff that we needed to be verified was being taken.... When I caught some of those people and made them put stuff back I let them know that they were stealing since it was on MY property.... I understand that many were hurt but they could ask if they could have it before they steal it.... We have become a nation that looks the other way when it comes to right and wrong and it is destroying this nation.... If it isn't yours keep your stinking hands off of it!

Mark Aaron

PD: "If it isn't yours keep your stinking hands off of it!"

If you want to keep it don't put it out in the street. Why not allow people to recycle something rather than having it crushed and buried?

Mark Aaron

Well said Elizabeth. I agree.

Steve Fouga

I have to agree with Ms Beeton on this one. People should be happy to see the stuff removed, and happy that someone can make use of it.

Doyle Beard

How about when they scatter it and someone has to clean it up and put back in a pile like 3 times.

Steve Fouga

Well that's just plain rude. They shouldn't do that. That wasn't mentioned in the article.

Kelly Naschke

I have to agree with EB on this one. If what you throw out has use for someone else....why would that bother you? The “scavengers” are so prevalent on any given trash day that they are to be expected in my neighborhood. We actually leave things FOR them. When you have teenagers...and get po’d by someone taking that bike that fits a five year old out of your “trash”... you have a problem. What happened to Leonard’s bleeding heart? Not a very progressively liberal point of view Leonardo.

Don Schlessinger

As Kelly, I make sure things I am through with go to salvagers and anyone else who might be able to use them. I spent 25 years working Africa, and was amazed when I saw what people not as fortunate as me do with recycled goods to make them new again. That was the reason I started making it easy for people to have things that were broken, or that I no longer need.

Doyle, I understand how you feel about salvagers who are rude enough to leave a mess when they are finished doing their thing. After Ike I made sure I separated things I thought might be recycled from what I knew would never be used again, which made it easier for people to take things without making a mess.

I am surprised that the head of a liberal rag like the GDN would disparage people trying to make something of discarded goods. Seems to me he’s looking down his nose at people not as fortunate as him.
Bottom line, EB I agree with you.

Randy Chapman

Until it's removed from your property, it's still your's if it is not in a designated trash container.

Jarvis Buckley

I see nothing wrong with folks picking out items that they may never be able to have otherwise.

Jarvis Buckley

Curb side scavengers, such a degrading term for poor folk , trying to give their family a little better bedroom or living room set. We all aren't born with a silver spoon in our
mouth.!!

Mark Aaron

Glad to see you still posting Jarvis. I hope your treatment is going well.

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