Debris Management  




What is a disaster?

A disaster is an event that causes severe physical or mental harm. It can be a natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, drought, and tornadoes; human-made events such as wars and terrorist attacks; or systemic failure of infrastructure like hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017.

The long-term task of managing the aftermath falls to relief organizations on all levels from international aid groups to local charities who are often overwhelmed by donations after these disasters occur because they have so many people seeking help at once when not enough supplies exist for everyone affected by the tragedy.

Some believe this would depend greatly on how well our community reassembles itself following each catastrophic incident before we start making strides towards recovery which could take years with no foreseeable end date due to there being more

Response to disasters

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance is initiated by the Governor’s declaration of an emergency and request for federal aid.

The Governor has designated the Governor’s Office of Homeland and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) as the State Agency to coordinate federal assistance under the Stafford Act; and, as such GOHSEP has the responsibility for the overall management and administration of the Stafford Act Public Assistance (PA) Program.

FEMA's help begins with their involvement as soon as they are contacted by the governor through the Governor’s Office of Homeland and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP); this leads them on site where they will assess damages.

The Governor's request for assistance is made to FEMA and representatives from GOHSEP and FEMA conduct a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) to estimate the extent of the disaster and its impact on individuals and public facilities

Disaster Categories

There are many types of disasters to contend with, which can be categorized as either natural or manmade.


Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms and lightning, winter storms and extreme cold, extreme heat, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslide and debris flows (mudslide), tsunamis, wildfires, epidemics/pandemics


Hazardous materials spill/leak, terrorism, explosions, aircraft crashes, chemical emergencies, nuclear power plant incidents, fires, food poisoning outbreaks, bio-engineered agent releases


Disaster Debris Management

What is disaster debris management?

Debris management is an essential but often overlooked component of any emergency response. It is a type of disaster management service. Every disaster leaves behind debris that needs to be disposed of properly, or we risk our health and the environment.

Debris has been piling up from storms everywhere this year - many areas don't have sufficient resources yet available after Harvey hit Texas last week and then Maria left Puerto Rico devastated just two weeks later. Now FEMA's National Response Team estimates it could take

Safe, proper, and timely management of debris is a crucial (but often overlooked) part of an emergency response or disaster incident. Debris management is also one of many competing priorities agencies must manage during these events. It is important that disaster debris be properly managed so as to protect human health, comply with regulations, conserve disposal capacity, reduce injuries, and minimize or prevent environmental impacts.

For the public, disaster relief and recovery is a crucial part of life where they tend to spend large sums on debris management.  

What makes disaster debris management successful? 

Disaster relief is a costly business with disaster debris management being the largest part of government expenditures. The success of any plan for speeding up recovery depends on agencies involved sticking to their principles and taking care in planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Proper planning by managers as well as effective employee training will provide a solid foundation for quick recovery from disasters which are known to be devastating due to various reasons including high costs that affect all walks of life such that they can cripple economies if not handled effectively right away.

Why is disaster debris management important?

In the wake of natural disasters, relief management is critical to ensure that people have access to food and medicine. The logistics involved in this type of work are staggering; aid has been distributed around the globe by organizations such as Doctors Without Borders or World Relief.

Some disaster areas may require international intervention for years after a catastrophe strikes because they can't provide basic needs like shelter and water on their own without outside help.

While you might think there's nothing about humanitarian efforts one could do remotely from home, technology offers many ways we contribute: donating money through an app on our phone, scanning barcodes with our camera at events so sponsors know which products need more attention based off popularity - these all support those who are working hard overseas every day helping others.

Disaster debris management plan

A Debris Management Plan is designed to provide guidance for the safe decomposition of natural disasters. The plan lays out deadlines, guidelines and procedures that must be followed in order to start a disaster debris site. It also ensures compliance with regulations set forth by FEMA so as not to jeopardize any progress made towards recovery from said event.

A well-executed debris management plan is the cornerstone of any disaster recovery. Without a feasible and functioning strategy for dealing with all that comes our way, we are just left to clean up after ourselves.

It is important that local debris management plans identify key staff members and their responsibilities for managing, removing, and disposing of the region's many scraps.

Disaster debris management team

The disaster relief management team is a group of people who are responsible for coordinating and leading the response to natural disasters. The disaster relief management team communicates with various stakeholders, including search-and-rescue teams, law enforcement agencies, media outlets as well as governmental bodies.

The work that these professionals do can be very hard at times but they know how important it is to alleviate any pain or hardship caused by major storms like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year in Florida and Texas respectively

An essential part of any debris management plan is who will be in charge when the time comes. Residents can't do it all on their own, and should always have a designated team so they know exactly what to expect from them as well.

The key people for managing disaster clean-up are typically local government staff members like public works officials or police officers with experience dealing with disasters; although residents may also volunteer this kind of service if possible, there won't necessarily be enough volunteers available during an emergency situation that lasts more than just days after the storm has passed through town.

Benefits of advance planning for disaster debris management 

  • Organized control of disaster debris management
  • Reduced costs
  • Rapid speed and efficiency of clean-up
  • Reduced environmental and public health impacts
  • Consistency with federal reimbursement requirements
  • Increased public awareness of debris management issues

Debris response triggers

GOHSEP and FEMA use the results of Point Debris Assessment (PDA) to determine if the disaster situation is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local resources. They also verify a need for supplemental federal assistance based on whether or not they deem it necessary because all disasters do not necessarily require debris management - some only have different levels which trigger various options in terms of what can be done through relief efforts.

Debris response trigger examples

Low intensity 

Trigger 1 - Impact 1 and local flooding or intense storms: Local debris site activation and vegetation debris reduction

Medium intensity 

Trigger 2 - Impact 2 and Cat. 1 Hurricanes or tornadoes: Consider construction and demolition (C&D) debris site collection
Trigger 3 - Impact 3 and Cat. 2-3 hurricanes: Consider air curtain destructors, modification of C&D definitions for flooded areas, and modification of asbestos handling guidance.

High intensity 

Trigger 4 - Impact 4: consider additional debris sites and grinding C&D.
Trigger 5 - Impact 5: consider amended residence demolition guidance; consider additional C&D guidance.


Trigger 6 - Impact 6: consider vegetative debris options, consider additional disposal options.


Emergency debris site

Selecting an emergency debris site

When selecting a proposed emergency debris site, the local government should consider the following:

  • Ownership of site? If not government-owned, the applicant needs to have secured access rights to the property. (Note: It is up to the local government to ensure that they have the legal right to utilize the site for its intended purpose.)
  • Does the site have approval from the State Historic Preservation Office?
  • What is the proposed use for this site?
  • Is the proposed site located outside of the 100-year floodplain and wetlands?
  • Are there nearby residences and/or businesses that will be inconvenienced or adversely affected by use of the site?
  • Are there any site safety issues? (e.g., power lines, pipelines)
  • Are any erosion and/or rainwater runoff control measures needed?
  • Is additional containment necessary for any wastes that have a potential for leaking? (e.g., white goods leaking Freon)
  • Are the roadways and entrances to the site suitable for trucks hauling debris?
  • Is the site fully accessible to fire personnel and equipment?
  • Is the size of the site sufficient for its intended use?
  • Is the general terrain of the site suitable for the proposed activities?
  • For burning, is the location where the burning activities will occur at least 1,000 feet from residences, businesses, schools, hospitals, clinics, and roads?
    • Is the location where the burning activities will occur at least 100 feet from any nearby brush and tree line?
    • If ash is to be land applied at the site, is the location at least 25 feet from surface waters or drainage ditches?
    • Is the location where the activities will occur at the site at least 100 feet from property boundaries and on-site structures?
  • Is the location where the activities will occur at the site at least:
    • 100 feet from potable water wells?
    • 100 feet from nearby surface waters?
    • 10,000 feet to the nearest airport?


LDEQ’s Debris Management Plan -

Disaster Debris Planning -


About LEMOINE Disaster Services

LEMOINE Disaster Services provides a full suite of disaster relief services, including Recovery Grant Management, FEMA/CDBG-DR Program Management, Debris Management, Restoration and Remediation, Construction Management, and disaster software and staffing solutions.

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We partner before a disaster even approaches because preparation defines resiliency and drives swift response. Leveraging powerful resources already in place, LEMOINE is ready to help before the unthinkable happens. Let’s get started today.



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