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HURRICANE DEBRIS CLEANUP

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Considers how communities in general and northwest Florida in particular can cleanup debris following ...... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Considers how communities in general and northwest Florida in particular can clean up debris following a hurricane. Also touches on the issues of health hazards and flooding, and communications problems.

Paper Introduction:
Hurricane Debris Cleanup Preparation Introduction Hurricanes and tornadoes have made headlines in recent years as thedevastation left in their wakes is broadcast around the nation and evenaround the world Hurricanes in particular make for spectacular newsprograms because of the large area covered by these natural disasters andthe surrealist nature of the damage that is caused Boats and ships comeloose from their moorings for example and can end up miles inland Theimages of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina remain fresh in people\'s mindswith

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It is also critical that the debris removal plan include contingenciesfor hazardous waste-including computers that might be damaged as a resultof the storm-and for different types of debris. Key arteries, for example, may be given priority inorder to ensure that recovery workers can reach their destinations safelyand in a timely fashion. 27-3 .Jeter, L. 23.Planning for disaster debris. (2 6, May 8). Permit requirements, forexample, should take into account the effects of a hurricane and howbuilding materials will behave when a hurricane strikes. A strategy should be developed to identify the priority fordebris removal, for example. (2 5, September 19). ReferencesEaton, L. Finally, the debris removal plan should include a communicationcomponent to ensure that information is disseminated to residents andbusiness owners regarding debris removal. Earthquakes can also generate ash and charredwood from fires that may result, but these are not typically associatedwith hurricanes ("Planning for," 2 6). If the debris is not handled appropriately, thelong-term effects can be devastating to the surrounding area. Spoilage of food and garbage in these debris piles canalso lead to health hazards (Heffes, 2 6). At the same time, breakdown in communication and transportation mayinhibit debris removal; this also needs to be taken into account whendeveloping the plan. As events become larger inscale, more contractors may be involved, with coordination required amongthese various companies. It is also critical that there be a destination for debris that isremoved, whether by government agencies or by private individuals. Conclusion Floridians live with hurricanes in the same way that Midwesternerslive with tornadoes or Californians live with earthquakes. Because thestorm itself is quite large, often extending hundreds of miles, hurricanescan move inland and leave debris in their wake hundreds of miles from thecoast. Debris on public property is removed by the contractors selected bythe local governments in most cases; this is the debris removal that FEMAfunds. This can bedone in advance, and as the very active recent hurricane seasons havedemonstrated, are critical to the recovery process. Although actual removal of debris is typically completed by privatecontractors-local, in most cases, although major hurricanes may result inout-of-area contractors being hired, as well, there can be confusion overwho is responsible for removing what debris. One of thelandfills used following 1965's Hurricane Betsy was not subject to the samestringent oversight as other landfills with the result that the siteeventually was designated a Superfund site with negative impact to thelocal environment (Eaton, 2 6). Until debris iscleared, it may offer an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes-in standingwater-or for vermin who take refuge is piles of lumber. Gulf Coast cities struggle with overwhelming debris. Hurricane Debris Cleanup Preparation Introduction Hurricanes and tornadoes have made headlines in recent years as thedevastation left in their wakes is broadcast around the nation and evenaround the world. Locallandfills may well have suffered damage that renders them useless, socontingency plans will need to be made both in the short-term and the long-term. Hurricane Debris Removal Issues There are four key issues associated with hurricane debris removal:types of debris, magnitude of debris to be removed, agencies that could beinvolved in debris removal, and assigning responsibility for removal. It is difficult to estimatehow much debris was created by Hurricane Katrina, since the clean-up isstill continuing and because not all of the debris has yet been created-additional debris will be created as recovery efforts continue-but Biloxi,Mississippi had cleared approximately two million cubic yards of debris byearly 2 6 and estimated that approximately half of the debris had beencleared at that time (Johnson, 2 6). Newconstruction cannot begin until debris is removed and debris can alsocontribute to health hazards and impair the reconstruction oftransportation and communications. Children may find debris an attractive play site, and issues suchas tetanus become more pronounced in these situations. The New York Times, p. However, greenwaste can be problematic and cause downed power lines as well astransportation difficulties (Heffes, 2 6). The type of debris that isassociated with hurricanes is as extensive as that associated with floods,and nearly as extensive as that associated with earthquakes. Debris is rarely"clean," so that there is also likely to be garbage and food waste in manyor most debris piles. Theimages of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina remain fresh in people's mindswith pictures of people stranded on roofs and, once the waters receded,with pictures of entire housing tracts reduced to nothing but rubble.There are many issues with which local communities are concerned followinga hurricane, but debris removal is one of the most critical. 1.Johnson, J. Debris can also be associated with health hazards. If roadsare not cleared, it can be difficult for rescue workers to reach strandedcitizens, or for repair crews to reach utility facilities. Washington, DC: FEMA. This reduces the demand ondebris removal as a whole and enhances the overall effectiveness of theresponse team. Beyond trying to minimize the debris that is created by a hurricane,Florida counties need to establish a disaster plan that includes debrisremoval. Hurricanesand floods both generate damaged buildings, sediment waste, green waste andpersonal property waste. The debris leftbehind by a hurricane, however, can be far greater than with these othernatural disasters. (2 6, April). Retrieved 4 May 2 6 from: .Heffes, E. Hurricane debris is typically most acute in the area where thehurricane first makes landfall. However, debris can be carried far inlandfrom the storm surge and wind that accompanies the hurricane. Retrieved 4 May 2 6 from: . Plans should begin not with the onset of a hurricane, but withpreparations that are done ahead of time. In addition, utilities are often out of service forextended periods of time, making communications even more difficult. (2 6, February 22). This is the allocation that was used following the2 4 hurricane season, for example, in Florida ("FEMA/State," 2 4). Recommendations Although it is impossible to anticipate the exact damage that anyparticular hurricane will create, it is possible to create plans forhandling the inevitable debris that accompanies any hurricane. This can exacerbate the presence of scavengers whocan spread disease. Transportation is an important consideration in the aftermath of ahurricane and directly affects-and is affected by-debris removal. Boats and ships comeloose from their moorings, for example, and can end up miles inland. Constructiontechniques can also be undertaken that will minimize debris issues. Mississippians getting back on their feet. Evenin the situation where the communication infrastructure remains intact, thedifferent communications equipment used by different agencies can make itdifficult for local, regional, state and national agencies to communicateeffectively with one another. A single tree that fallsacross a railway line can disrupt thousands of commuters, for example, andmay even prevent emergency workers from reaching their destinations. In the initial period following a hurricane, homeowners andbusiness owners may be allowed to move debris to public property to behauled away, as well. Financial Executive, pp. Hurricane season 2 6 is approaching. The magnitude of debris to be cleared raises several issues. In the short-term, debris might be taken outside the area through apre-existing agreement with other municipalities not likely to be affectedby hurricanes, but in the long-term, having a local site reduces both thecost and the time associated with debris removal. A disaster on the scale of a hurricane, however,moves far beyond the scale that can be handled on a strictly local level.In addition to local contractors, the following agencies are likely to beinvolved: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Army Corpsof Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the federallevel; on the state level, the state emergency management agency and statewaste management agency may serve as liaisons between local and federalagencies, or may provide services directly to assist with debris removal.In Florida, the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) is involved withhurricane recovery ("FEMA/State," 2 4). Mississippi Business Journal, 27, p. Issues occurring in the Aftermath of a Hurricane One of the key issues associated with natural disasters is that ofcommunications. When small emergencies arise, such as a residential fire, debrisis typically removed by a local contractor. Because hurricanes affect large areas and debris is created as damagedhouses and buildings are ultimately destroyed, it can be difficult toassess the magnitude of debris removal until years after a hurricane.Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, resulted in 43 million cubicyards of debris in the Metro-Dade metropolitan area alone. This was particularly evident in the wake of HurricaneKatrina where the hurricane knocked out cell phone towers as well as somelandline facilities. Residents andbusinesses anxious to clear away debris in order to begin rebuilding orsimply to clean their property may also injure themselves following thehurricane in debris piles. FEMA typically funds 75percent of debris clean-up from public property while states pay theremaining 25 percent. A New landfill in New Orleans sets off a battle. Another issue confronting those who are seeking to prepare a debrisremoval plan is coordinating the many agencies associated with disasterrecovery. In addition, the plan needs tobe updated on a regular basis to take into account new development or otherenvironmental changes that will have a direct impact on debris removal. Initially, for example,green debris and construction debris might be combined, but as the clean-upeffort moves forward, more discrimination might be desirable. Thereis, of course, the issue of how to clear the debris-trucks, personnel,equipment all need to be arranged. In addition,there is often a storm surge that brings significant amounts of sea waterinland along with debris from the coast. However, one of the most significantproblems facing those engaged in debris removal is finding locations wherethe debris can be hauled. Washington, DC: Environmental Protection Agency. While some debris clearing by citizens can helpreduce the demand and burden on government services, there are also healthrisks if the debris is not cleared properly or if debris is disposed ofwithout appropriate precautions. A1.FEMA/State hurricane response daily summary. At the sametime, clearing the roads also make it possible for citizens in less-affected areas to clear their own debris. An effective communications network is required not only for debrisremoval workers to communicate with one another and coordinate theactivities, but also for agencies to communicate on a broader level inorder to ensure that all clean-up tasks are assigned and responsibilitiesare understood. (2 6, March 27). A good plan developed in calm times can help ensurethat debris removal is coordinated among all of the various agencies likelyto be involved, and that priorities are clearly and appropriately assignedto the process. In some cases, residents who have had debris removed ontheir behalf have later received bills from the agencies involved (Jeter,2 5). Hurricanes generate debris that is common both to tornadoes and floodssince they combine high winds with large volumes of rain. (2 4, September 29). Some types of transportation, such as helicopters, can beimpaired if there are large amounts of debris (Heffes, 2 6). Additionally, there can be health hazards associated with the debrisitself. Communications also are important from the standpoint ofcoordinating emergency debris removal as conditions change or medicalemergencies arise. Typically, debris which poses a health orsafety hazard is removed first; however, in the aftermath of a major storm,there may be many sites where this is the case. Prioritizing removal iskey. Hurricanes, in particular, make for spectacular newsprograms because of the large area covered by these natural disasters andthe surrealist nature of the damage that is caused. This research provides a briefoversight of some of the issues that occur in the aftermath of a hurricanethat can affect debris removal, how communities can accomplish debrisremoval itself, and recommendations on how a debris removal plan might bedeveloped. By comparison,the Northridge earthquake that struck the Southern California area in 1994created seven million cubic yards of debris. Waste News, 11, p. The debris tends to lessen as one moves inland, with green wastethe primary type of debris farther away from the coast. M. Otherwise, debris on private property is theresponsibility of the owners to dispose of and is not eligible for FEMA orstate assistance.

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