AFTER HARVEY: How Austin crews are bringing some normalcy to Victoria

Among the many things that Hurricane Harvey destroyed as it tore through Victoria: The town’s traffic lights and road signs.

“They have about 88 signals in their city, and they think they had two working” after the storm passed through, said Austin Transportation director Robert Spillar, who received the call from Victoria officials Aug. 29 needing help.

“If a signal was hanging from a pole, it looked like it was hit like a piñata with a baseball bat,” Spillar added.

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Last week Austin sent 23 full-time transportation crew members to repair Victoria’s traffic signal system, and now about 40 signals are back online, Spillar told the City Council Tuesday morning. The Austin workers have also installed 122 temporary stop signs, quickly replacing the ones Harvey wiped out.

The council on Tuesday approved an agreement allowing it to provide that aid to Victoria. Austin will submit its costs and be fully reimbursed by Victoria, which in turn will receive 75 percent reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The council also approved an updated agreement Tuesday with Houston, where Austin police have sent more than 50 officers to help with patrols and may provide additional support as needed.

HARVEY UPDATE: Some at Austin mega-shelter headed back to coast

“I’m proud this city has the resources … that we can be this type of asset to the state,” Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said. “I just want to commend the staff for working quickly to get this stuff done.”

Spillar said he expects the Austin transportation workers to return Wednesday evening. Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said Saturday, as the first group of officers boarded a bus to Houston, that they would work in Houston for a week, then be swapped out for another group.

Austin Energy crews have also been working to restore downed power lines in coastal communities through agreements already in place with other utility companies.

“Thank you all for the tremendous work you’re doing, not only to welcome evacuees to our community, but to send our expertise out to other communities that need it,” Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo said.

HOW TO HELP: Volunteers, donations needed for Harvey relief

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