cpmment Discussion Module 4

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1-Rebecca Crispi    

Discussion Module 4 

. Research and select a state or local debris management plan 

2. Read the plan and conduct a critical review answering: 

•What types of hazards is the state/local authority threatened by? 


In New York, the plan mentions storm debris, flooding, droughts, spills and invasive species.   

•Does the policy/plan consider the types of debris produced by those hazards? 

•Does the policy/plan discuss how to collect, sort, and dispose of the debris? 


Yes, this plan does consider the types of debris produced by the hazards and how to dispose of them. For example, the plan for storm debris mentions numerous types of cleanup, some being:  

Asbestos containing materials – disposed at a “permitted municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill” as per NY State ACM Disaster Guide.  

Asian Long Horned Beetle debris – trees must be chipped a certain way and then possibly quarantined.  

Dead animals – disposed at a MSW landfill or “on- site.” 

Electronic waste – must be recycled according to NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling & Reuse Act 

Household hazardous wastes – must be stored in a safe place until it can be taken to hazardous waste facility for proper disposal.  

Utility poles – these are said to be reused or taken to a MSW landfill. 

•Does the policy/plan mention FEMA’s rules for reimbursement for debris management? 


This document gives a link to FEMA website, which does explain eligibility, insurance settlement, reasonable cost. There is an entire chapter dedicated to the costs of debris removal, including different type of contracts such as piggyback contracts and prohibited contracts. 


•How does the plan identify human and physical resources specified for the debris management function? 


“All personnel conducting debris operations should be trained, at a minimum, on items such as identification of hazards and proper use of personal protective equipment. Additional training specific to job duties should be conducted to ensure the health and safety of the staff working at the site. Personnel should also be trained in identifying the different solid waste types, such as HHW and e-scrap, to ensure all wastes are separated and managed properly.”  

This is basically saying that people who are going to be involved in debris removal and disposal need to know what they are doing, be properly trained. Not only should they be trained on how to dispose of the materials but they also need to be able to identify different types of debris and wastes so they are taken to the right place.  

•Did you learn anything from reading the plan that was not explored in the course?  If so, what? 


I learned a lot from reading this document. I never realized, nor did I ever think about, how much is involved in disposing of debris. I never thought about how there is going to be hazardous wastes and dead animals, let alone certain beetles and trees that need to be chipped to a certain dimension and then quarantined. It was a very interesting document to read because I did not know anything about debris removal beforehand.  

•What is your overall assessment of the policy/plan?  (e.g., what are its strengths and weaknesses?) 

•What recommendations do you have to improve the plan? 


Overall, I find this document to be thorough and very detailed. I think it does a great job outlining the different risks, and providing links to policies and other organizations that are involved in the debris removal process. It even includes a handout that can be given to residents of the area on how to expedite and organize to efficiently remove the debris.  

To be honest, I don’t know how I would improve this plan. I find it to be easily read and navigated. I find there is great detail and specifics that lets any person reading the plan get an easy grasp on what they would need to do.  






2- Doug Harper    

As we continue along this journey together in Emergency Management, I have to admit I never until starting this Module even considered debris management, really knew anything about it, and was not aware of how as a function of a disaster it is so critical in so many ways. I have to say debris management is fascinating in itself as a byproduct of a disaster. But when taken as a whole of what we as EM managers need to consider in the recovery phase, adding debris management to the recovery phase can truly be a daunting task.

I was fortunate enough to have within Toronto’s Emergency Plan a fully accessible/transparent debris management plan/document (https://www1.toronto.ca/City%20Of%20Toronto/Office%20of%20Emergency%20Management/Files/pdf/ESFs/Debris%20Management%20ESF/Debris%20Management_Plan_ESF_A_160429.pdf). This document was refreshed and rewritten in May 2016 so it is quite current.

The document in my opinion is an example of pre-event recovery planning. I can attest to debris management as my city sustained a significant flash flood rain event in July of 2013 that dropped 126mm (5″) of rain in two hours and broke a single day rainfall record for the city (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-floods-leave-power-system-hanging-by-a-thread-1.1304807). The amount of debris due to flooded basements was unprecedented. I can recall seeing curbside mounds of entire basement contents street after street left for special pickups using 26 ft straight trucks and pure manpower to move into the trucks. Some areas were able to secure dump trucks and loaders, but being prime summer construction season in Southern Ontario, the availability of dump trucks was a logistical issue from the private sector. Removal of curbside household goods took months.

I do appreciate this was only a flash flood rain event. I can not imagine the damage if a F3 or greater tornado took a direct hit to Toronto. The amount of debris for a city of almost 3 million persons would be significant. Yes our housing stock does contain many brick structures, but our building codes for years were not designed for more common events to the south as seen more frequently by the southern and mid US states. I do not know of any homes built prior to the most recent generation of new construction techniques that would consider using hurricane straps on roof structures in my city. Welcome to climate change.

As we read in Chapter 4 of Dr. Phillips book there will be both direct and indirect debris to be managed. One thing that stood out was Toronto does not identify and have a plan for indirect debris (spoiled foodstuffs and public goodwill donations) much to my surprise. Toronto uses the terminology of “Phases”: (1) Make safe (2) Recovery. Pretty simple concepts indeed. I also noted right out of FEMA was the use of windshield surveys for PDA’s and the use of aerial photography surveys. All in all from my limited knowledge to date of debris management it did seem like a good starting point.

I have attempted to give a very brief reply to the 8 questions asked:

•What types of hazards is the state/local authority threatened by? Broad based and the term “situations”. They do not define specific hazards such as tornado, flood, hurricane, etc.  

•Does the policy/plan consider the types of debris produced by those hazards? It does talk about trees, sand, gravel, building and construction materials, vehicles, personal property, general waste or hazardous wastes 

•Does the policy/plan discuss how to collect, sort, and dispose of the debris? It does using a combination of city equipment and staff, and that of private contractors but not for the homeowners themselves (see below comments) 

•Does the policy/plan mention FEMA’s rules for reimbursement for debris management? N/A due to Canadian example. However along the same thought process, there was no reference to federal funding via the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada 

•How does the plan identify human and physical resources specified for the debris management function? Very well as each municipal department that is expected to play a role in debris management is identified. These are: Solid Waste, Transportation Services, Toronto Water, Parks, and Forestry departments 

•Did you learn anything from reading the plan that was not explored in the course?  If so, what? Nothing “new” stood out from the 11 page document 

•What is your overall assessment of the policy/plan?  (e.g., what are its strengths and weaknesses?) I give it a B. Yes something to start the discussion. I was very impressed with the pre-planning for Temporary Debris Storage and Reduction (TDSR) sites. Toronto on a yearly basis revisits the site selections for a review. However as mentioned above no comments in regards to indirect waste. It really is a broad based document as it does not get into the minutia of setting up grids or Sectors for debris management, it does not talk about separation zones curbside by the homeowners themselves, nor does it deal with top tier government financial assistance 

•What recommendations do you have to improve the plan? Drill right down into to “nuts and bolts” of how it will be done and what the homeowner will be expected to do 

To summarize my city has at least spent time in the form of human resources to pre-plan for debris management. Saying that Toronto can do better. maybe an idea for my thesis???

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