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Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes create a
burden on a community.
In addition to the struggles that a community faces
during these times, the waste produced must be managed in order
to begin recovering from the disaster. Disaster debris that is
not recycled or reused may exceed the space available in local
Natural disasters can create millions of cubic yards of
debris. This debris includes green waste, such as trees, shrubs,
and grass; damaged building materials; sediments; and ash.
The type of debris created is often dependent on the type
of natural disaster.
Hurricane Debris: Most of the damage from hurricanes occurs at the first site
of land contact. However, additional damage extends miles
inland, creating a large amount of green waste and
Earthquake Debris: Earthquakes generate a large amount of C&D and sediment
waste near the fault line.
There is also a great amount of secondary damage
including fires, explosions, and minor flooding due to broken
Tornado Debris: The damage path of a tornado is generally confined to its path,
which can be yards to hundreds of miles wide.
Building material and green waste are the most common
types of debris created.
Sediment, mud, and sandbags create a large amount of waste after
flooding. Other types of waste may include household hazardous
waste, appliances, tires, and water-damaged wood.
Fires create mostly ash and charred wood waste.
Secondary damage may include green waste from partially
burned trees and mud slides caused by the absence of ground
With proper management, disaster debris waste can be
collected, separated, and sold or donated, avoiding the
unnecessary fill of local landfills.
Green waste can
be processed locally and reused or sold as mulch and compost.
crushed concrete and asphalt can be donated or sold and used as
Metals can be
separated and sold as scrap.
Wood can be
used as fuel for energy.
of sediment can be gathered and returned to their original
location or used as filler in reconstruction projects.
Many cities and states have disaster debris management plans
in place. Knowledge
of these plans can save money and time after a natural disaster.
Keep an updated
disaster debris management plan that can be implemented quickly
collaborative arrangements with other communities for resources,
case of future disasters.
current recycling program that can be expanded in case of an
ensures proper permits, collection, and processing beforehand.
efficient communication plan in place for instruction on where,
how, and when to collect and sort disaster debris.
Plan to hire additional staff or volunteers for
communication to the public.
locations for storage and collection of debris. These sites
could also be used for processing, like mulching green waste or
separating C&D materials.
management piece for household hazardous wastes, as well as
handlers who are trained in hazardous waste disposal.
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