Dave Rogers

For The Record

Orange County served up some good news for folks who require temporary housing at the site of homes damaged by Tropical Storm Harvey.

County Commissioners issued an 18-month reprieve for elevation restrictions for temporary housing due to Harvey in the federally designated “special flood hazard area.”

Joel Ardoin, county code compliance director, said that while new construction in a special flood hazard area must be built above the base flood elevation for that specific area. He said that standard applied to temporary housing, too.

Until Tuesday.

“FEMA is giving the local jurisdictions the options to waive those restrictions for the temporary housing only, to be set below the base flood elevation if it has to be,” Ardoin said.

“We want to make sure people have the least amount of hurdles as possible to jump over,” County Judge Stephen Brint Carlont said.

The waiver applies not only to FEMA-provided housing, but all trailers and mobile homes, Ardoin said.

FEMA, which initially cited a nation-wide shortage in temporary housing to offer homeowners while they rebuild, began a month ago taking applications for trailers.

FEMA has two disaster recovery centers open in Orange County, at the Expo Center on FM 1442; and at the Vidor Police Department.

Orange County opened an information line for its Private Property Debris Removal Program, 409-745-9809.

The program is for properties that have flood-generated and demolition materials that cannot be removed by owners and poses a threat to public health and safety.

So far, Orange County haulers have picked up 347,000 cubic yards of debris. The County Landfill remains open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. all days except Sunday.

In other county business, commissioners approved the October monthly report showing $507,000 investments made and $7,000 interest collected, with pledged security collateral for $79.4 million.

They also OK’d payment of $154,000 in bills, authorized temporarily moving the county-leased office of State Rep. Dade Phelan to the FM 1442 building used by veteran services, accepted a low bid of $17,479 by Childs Building Supply for two parks department lawnmowers to replace ones ruined by Harvey’s flooding.

The county also saluted Orange County Health Inspector James Scales for being named one of the top 40 under 40 professionals in the Golden Triangle by the Southeast Texas Young Professional Organization.

Prior to Tuesday’s hour long meeting of commissioners’ court, members received their annual presentation by the county’s Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office.

Christina Ritter and Fallon Foster are the extension agents with a third spot, the ag agent, soon to be filled.

Foster, a 40 under 40 honoree a year ago, oversaw presentations by youngsters Allee Palmer and Hannah Tait on Youth Cooking Camp, and by Sierra Hutchison about 4-H.

Shon Garrison, an Orange County Juvenile Probation Officer, spoke of the life-saving effects of the Agri-Life diabetes education program.

Early voting has been brisk in the Dec. 19 Hospital District election. More than 2,000 citizens had cast ballots after two days. Early voting continues through Dec. 15.