How to Manage Debris From Hurricane Harvey

For over a month after Hurricane Harvey pulverized the Gulf Coast, residents are still cleaning up after the storm. Many areas were unable to start clearing debris until recently because of heavy flooding. Managing debris after a major storm is the next step to rebuilding, but you should still be cautious. There are plenty of risks still involved.

Harris County officials are targeting major roadways first in an effort to clear the path for emergency and life-saving operations. After the prioritized roadway clearance is complete, specialized debris removal teams will be moving into residential areas to begin cleaning up. Typical waste removal services are not designated to take storm-related debris. While your area waits to have debris removed, here is a guide that will help expedite the process and keep you safe:

Where do I put debris from my property so it can be picked up?

Place any debris prepared for removal on the curbside in front of the house. Do not put debris on the sidewalk or in the roadway because this inhibits the debris removal process. Any debris that is past the sidewalk, towards the property, will not be taken. Contractors are not allowed to remove items from private property If you do not have a sidewalk, ditch, or utility line in front of your house, put the debris on the outermost edge of your property, but still before the curb. Please don’t lean debris on or against other objects, such as trees, poles, or stack it in large piles. It is easier for officials to remove items if they are on the ground.

Should I organize the debris?

Yes, this is a great way to accelerate the removal process. Do your best to separate debris in front of your property in the following categories:

Normal Household Trash

Try to follow the normal garbage removal schedule for your area. Put any typical household garbage in trash bags, such as discarded food, paper, and packaging.


Includes leaves, logs, plants, and tree branches. Large objects cannot be picked up and must be broken down into smaller pieces, less than four feet long.

Construction and Demolition

Includes carpets, drywall, furniture, rocks, plywood, lumber, mattresses, plumbing, pipes, other building materials.

Large Appliances

Includes air conditioners, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, and water heaters. You may need to schedule a special pickup for some of these items. Secure doors on the appliances with duct tape.


Includes microwaves, televisions, computers, stereos, radios, speakers, lamps, and all devices with an electrical cord.

Household Hazardous Waste

Includes batteries, cleaning chemicals, lawn chemicals, oils, paints, and pesticides. Look for special instructions on pickup and drop-off options in your area.

What else should I look out for?

Safety the highest priority. You should take some precautions to prevent post-disaster injuries and fatalities.

  • Look out for damaged water, gas, and electric lines. Trimming downed trees could be hiding live wires.
  • Buildings with severe structural damage may not be sturdy for long. Falling construction materials also pose a threat.
  • Be aware of any hazardous waste or chemical exposure.  Report any hazardous spills to Harris County Pollution Control Services Department at 713-920-2831
  • Mold and mildew are hazardous to human health, do not stay exposed for long periods of time.

If you have any questions about debris separation or removal, call the Harris County Residential Debris and Damage Assessment Hotline at 713-274-3880.

Quick Contact