Westlake City Hall sustained major damage, but employees and officials are doubling up to operate in what’s left of the facility in the aftermath of two powerful hurricanes.
According to Mayor Bob Hardey, debris pickup is ahead of schedule in Westlake. However, city utility bills could be late.
“Some of the bills might have two months worth of charges,” Hardey said this week. “We’ll work with everyone, and they can pay utility bills online, at city hall or by mail.”
The mayor would also like to remind Westlake area residents that the city is not responsible for debris removal on streets that fall outside the city’s lines of incorporation.
“The state has its own contractor to clean up,” Hardey said.
The Westlake City Council met Monday, October 19, during which it declared a state of emergency “before, during and after Hurricane Delta,” and authorized Mayor Hardey to enter into a contract with Crowder Gulf for Hurricane Laura removal and with Tetra Tech Inc. for Hurricane Laura Debris monitoring.
“I was going to piggy back with the parish and use the same companies they are using to remove and monitor debris,” Hardey explained. “But GOHSEP didn’t like that. They want to ensure a fair bid. So we put the contract out to bid and received only two responses.”
Debris monitors ensure removal operations are documented to substantiate the applicant’s grant claim, as part of guidelines set forth by FEMA.
“They take a photo of the debris, a photo after the debris is removed and another photo of the debris when it is unloaded to document the total cubic yards,” Hardey said.
So far 207,281 cubic yards have been removed from Westlake. Hardey estimated another 42,718 yards would be removed, but that number could increase because of added Hurricane Delta water damage and clean up. He expects most debris to be removed in about four more weeks.
“We were fortunate and grateful here that Sasol has allowed us to use a portion of property as a debris laydown yard. That means drivers don’t have to go as far to empty the load and return for another,” Hardey said.
This debris will be compacted and disposed of at a later date.
At the October 19 city council meeting, a motion was made and approved to allow the city to advertise for and establish a contract with a tree cutting, debris removal and monitoring service in advance of future emergencies of this kind.
Hardey said he was also grateful that Vernon Meyer and Dudley Dixon, Westlake officials prior to his administration, “had prepared our city by installing generators at every sewer station, water well and public works facility.”
“We have also been very blessed to have a Christian aid organization made up of Amish and Mennonites,” Hardey said.
“They have been here since Laura helping the community by preparing meals and providing equipment, operators and laborers to help clear debris.”