Orange County is “way ahead” of other counties hit by Hurricane Ike, Judge Carl Thibodeaux told commissioners in special session this week. Thibodeaux reported some 1,500 FEMA trailers now in Orange County. 

“Other counties hit by the hurricane haven’t probably 200 trailers right now,” he said. 

However, the judge cautioned that some matters are still dragging.

“We still have pieces of property that have been flagged for a trailer but nothing’s been brought in, or some pieces of property where a trailer’s been brought in but nothing’s been connected,” he said.

“We’re still having problems with some of the contractors and some problems with supplying trailers. There was an issue with the park models; production was way behind. We’ve been told, as always, that they’re working on it and that it is improving slowly but surely.

It’s not as fast as we would like it. But it’s better than what it was 30 days ago.”

About 600 homes will be under construction in the county in January, he said, however, those will have resulted from Hurricane Rita payouts. 

“We’re still getting the second round of Rita money … so that tells you how long we’re going to have to wait for Hurricane Ike. But we should get our money quicker this time because the Legislature will be meeting early on. Everybody’s going to be scrambling to make points with the media, make points with the press and get photo-ops come January with a new administration; so maybe they can get on that stuff sooner.”

Commissioners announced they would keep their original deadline of Dec. 31 as the cut-off date for hurricane debris to be picked up.

Thibodeaux said he had considered extending the time, but called that option “not feasible.”

“One issue we’re having right now is that people are putting non-eligible debris on the curb,” he said. “And FEMA monitors that. A lot of it’s being turned away, but if some of it slips into the landfill … it can cost the county into the millions of dollars.”

Also this week, commissioners agreed to pursue ordinance violation charges on salvage yards in Vidor owned by Bobby and James Vincent at 2505 N. Main St., 2695 N. Main and several lots at 320 Greathouse Road. 

“In some cases, old cars are being stored out into the county right of way,” said Commissioner Beamon Minton, whose precinct (No. 4) includes Vidor.

Vidor resident Woody Dugas, who has attended several commissioners’ meetings about the matter, thanked them for their attention. “Sometimes the wheels of justice move slowly,” Thibodeaux said.

In other business, commissioners:

• waived the December hanger rent at the Orange County Airport for pilot Rocky Herring of Orange, whose plane crashed near Sedona, Ariz., in November. Two were killed and Herring is in critical condition. The plane will not return to the county. Herring, 51, heads up Wings of Hope, which provides medical transportation for those who cannot afford it. The air mishap followed a recreational flight with relatives.

• approved the re-appointment of Arthur Hickey and appointment of Bill Hutto to two-year terms on the board of Emergency Services District No. 4.

• approved the re-appointment of David Teague, James Davis and Joe Parkhurst to two-year terms on the board of Emergency Services District No. 3. Bobby Manshack and Jason Gengo will complete their one-year terms.

• noted that their last meeting this year will be Dec. 22. There is no commissioners’ meeting Dec. 29.