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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. A Debris Management Handbook for State and Local DOTs and Departments of Public Works. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22239.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. A Debris Management Handbook for State and Local DOTs and Departments of Public Works. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22239.
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2C H A P T E R 1 Synopsis of Issue It is an unfortunate fact that disasters occur all too frequently in the United States. Disasters range from small local road washouts that a state department of transportation (DOT) or a local department of public works (DPW) quickly resolves, to massive storms that require a wide variety of local, state, and contract assistance to resolve. When these large disasters occur, federal reimbursement is usually made available; however, such reimbursement requires detailed docu- mentation to confirm funds expended. One of the major concerns associated with large disasters is the resulting debris created by such incidents. The removal, transportation, reduction, and disposal of multiple types of debris are required. Thousands of cubic yards of vegetative debris were generated in Mississippi fol- lowing Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In New Orleans, massive building replacement was necessary following the floods that resulted from the levee failure during Katrina. Millions of tons of con- struction and demolition (C&D) debris resulted from the 2001 World Trade Center collapses and the 1994 Northridge, CA, earthquake. The 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes also produced widely scattered residential C&D debris. Following all of these incidents, the collection, hauling, and disposal operations were massive and costly, and required intensive labor and use of equipment. In spite of the multiple disasters in which debris has been a major concern, states, counties, cities, towns, tribal reservations, and territories are seldom adequately prepared to respond. Target Audience This guide is intended to assist an audience with varying levels of knowledge and experience managing debris. For those with little knowledge or experience in debris removal operations, it provides an excellent overview of disaster operations. For those with more experience, it pro- vides more detailed information on subjects ranging from contracting to the development of a comprehensive debris management plan. Why Is Transportation Such a Key Concern After a Debris-Generating Event? Transportation routes are a key component of both immediate and long-term recovery efforts. Additionally, transportation and related personnel and equipment play key roles in both response and recovery. When large disasters occur, it is important to clear transportation routes as quickly as possible, for a number of reasons. Emergency assistance personnel and vehicles must have access to the impacted area; survivors require various means of transportation to medical care facili- ties and shelters. Supplies and equipment for repair and rebuilding must have a reliable path of Introduction

Introduction 3 transportation; debris (sometimes massive amounts) must be removed and disposed of in a proper manner. State DOTs and local DPWs have a tremendous responsibility to respond on short notice and react to these disasters with personnel, equipment, and contracting authorities. These agen- cies must have individuals who are trained and knowledgeable in responding, quickly assessing needs, making appropriate decisions about mutually exclusive use of resources, and developing both short- and long-term plans related to the debris operations. All of these tasks must be accom- plished while addressing multiple demands upon a fixed inventory of personnel and equipment. Why Did the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Prepare a Debris Management Handbook? Issues related to disaster debris continue to create problems for federal, state, and local agen- cies. NCHRP determined that a handbook that outlines these issues, with guidelines on how to prepare for or improve debris management responses, and provides summaries of effective practices, would be of great benefit. Virtually all community political leaders, state DOTs, local public works agencies, and facilities managers who are responsible for stormwater systems could benefit from having such a guide. The document can serve a multitude of purposes, including: • A single, comprehensive body of knowledge for all aspects of disaster debris planning and operations. • A foundation for continually developing and refining debris-related planning, operations, training, and exercises for state and local agencies. • A guide toward establishing specific contracting policies and procedures on debris removal and disposal operations that are based on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations and meet all reimbursement standards. • A guideline to understanding the debris-related roles of various federal agencies, primarily the FHWA, FEMA, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). How Was the Handbook Prepared? The development of this handbook involved an extensive amount of research and coordi- nation. The authors conducted detailed reviews of applicable regulations and guidelines from federal agencies involved in disaster debris operations or funding, and consulted individuals working for and with state and local DOTs and DPWs as well as associations, organizations, and firms with experience in debris planning, training, contracting, operations, and monitor- ing. The authors also contacted representatives from several state departments of emergency management, who provided documentation and advice on various aspects of debris operations. Creating the guide involved review and analysis of case studies. The writers reviewed, verified, and summarized all of the obtained background information to provide a clear picture of issues, problems, guidance, and potential solutions. What Does the Handbook Specifically Provide? The handbook provides a summary of the information that was gathered during its develop- ment. It provides background and advice to enable a community or agency to be better prepared to respond to disaster-related debris issues from likely events. It emphasizes that such entities should develop and exercise a debris management plan prior to an event, or else they will be forced to develop a plan during an event and after its occurrence. If the latter option is selected, there likely will be delays and issues that could have been prevented. The subjects addressed within the guide range from development of a plan to final debris disposal and operational closure.

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 781: A Debris Management Handbook for State and Local DOTs and Departments of Public Works provides debris management practices for local, tribal, and state departments of transportation and for public works agencies. A PowerPoint presentation and a final report describing the methodology of the project are available online.

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