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CS-5 S TAT E C A S E S T U DY Severe Storms From January 26â30, 2009, the state of Kentucky was blanketed by a significant ice storm. The storm began in the western part of the state and slowly moved eastward over a period of days, impacting 103 of the stateâs 120 counties. The storm resulted in over 15 million cubic yards of vegetative debris impacting roads throughout the state, making many routes impassable. The state received a federal disaster declaration on February 5, 2009. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is the state agency responsible for coordinating debris removal from state-maintained roads, including Federal-aid highways. Within the KYTC, the Office of Project Delivery & Preservationâs Division of Maintenance is tasked with overseeing debris management. There is a full-time disaster preparedness coordinator who develops and coordinates the statewide debris management program. KYTC also has twelve highway districts that oversee maintenance of the transportation systems within each district, including debris removal. At the time the ice storm occurred, the KYTCâs Disaster Coordinator, Frank Castle, reports that he had been in that position for less than three months. The KYTC did not have a disaster debris management plan (DMP), but it did have a hierarchy of priority state-maintained routes for snow and ice removal: Interstates, parkways, and National Highway System roads are top priority; state secondary roads are second priority; and rural secondary roads are third priority. Using the priority system as the basis for their debris operations for the ice storm, the district forces mobilized to begin clearing roads for emergency vehicles. They cut debris at the edge of the pavement or shoulder to get the roadways clear without removing any debris. During the clearance process, two issues surfaced that had to be overcome: â¢ Downed utility lines impeded debris clearance operations. KYTC had to coordinate closely with utility providers to remove downed power lines so that debris clearance operations could continue. â¢ The ice storm destroyed many cell towers and telephone lines in the western part of the state, effectively cutting off communication to several of the highway districts and a significant portion of the population. KYTC tried using their satellite phones, but discovered that ice on the antennas was impacting effective usage and also that the service provider had access to only one satellite, which limited access. Searching for other communication methods, KYTC discovered that while some cell phone providersâ towers were inoperable, others still had ser- vice, so they purchased pre-paid phones with the providers that still had service and sent them out to personnel working in the impacted areas. They also used the National Guardâs HAM radio operators working in the stateâs emergency operations center to communicate with the highway districts in the western part of the state. After clearance was accomplished, KYTC was faced with the daunting task of removing and disposing of all of the debris that was generated. Never having had a debris-generating disaster
CS-6 A Debris Management Handbook for State and Local DOTs and Departments of Public Works of this magnitude before, they did not have debris removal, disposal, or monitoring contracts in place prior to the event. They had learned from a previous disaster that using their existing contract for hazardous tree and brush removal did not comply with federal contracting require- ments because, Castle reports, that the scope of work is â just not geared for the big volume disasters.â The KYTC determined that first they needed to issue a contract for debris removal. Because they did not have the contracting authority to do this at the time the disaster occurred, they coordinated with the Finance and Administration Cabinet to issue requests for bids. Subse- quently, they also issued requests for disposal and monitoring contracts, in that order. The KYTC learned several lessons from this contracting experience, and Castle recommends consideration of the following: â¢ Every contractor should be required to submit performance bonds. When performance bonds are not required, an agency risks having contractors work for a few days, deciding that theyâre not going to make enough profit for the project to be worthwhile, and walking off the job. â¢ Contractors who bid on work in a county or district must agree to do the work at the low bid price. In other words, if multiple contractors bid on the same job and multiple awards are made, all awards will be made at the low bid price. Contractors selected for award have the option of declining the award. â¢ Award a debris monitoring contract before you award debris removal or disposal contracts. Castle asserts, âThatâs something every agency ought to have in advance of a storm.â â¢ Make reimbursements on the basis of weight rather than volume. Estimating cubic yards of debris is difficult and subjective and can lead to denial of reimbursement by federal agencies under their debris programs. âWeâre going by the ton because there is less guesswork by the ton,â Castle reports. Include a contractual requirement for the contractors to provide certified scales calibrated on a regular basis. During removal operations, KYTC and their contractors removed vegetative debris from right-of-way to right-of-way on state-maintained roads. They also removed debris from public roads in a few cities and counties with which they had Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs). âThe biggest problem there,â Castle says, âis that sometimes they (cities and counties) donât follow the same purchasing guidelines as we do, and they did a lot of no-bid contracts that got us in a little bit of hot water . . . but thatâs something that going forward weâre going to be looking out for because there are certain purchasing guidelines, even in an emergency.â Disposal contrac- tors and KYTC force account labor were instructed not to pick up utility poles; those were the responsibility of the utilities that had agreements to use KYTC right-of-way. The debris was transported to designated debris management sites (DMSs). Some of the sites were in the KYTC right-of-way, some were operated by cities or counties through MOAs, and some sites were on agricultural property. âThatâs another lesson learned,â Castle says. âThatâs one thing in the debris management plan now, that we will not use agricultural property for a DMS . . . We tried to develop a plan where we use our own right-of-way first, and then last resort would be land leases, but then we try to use commercial property. Under no circumstances will we use agricultural property again.â Most of the vegetative debris that was collected was burned using open-air burning. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet issued permits to the KYTC to conduct open burns to reduce the debris. The Energy and Environment Cabinet posted a list of every per- mitted burn site, with latitude and longitude as well as what was covered in the permit, on their website so that anyone who was interested could look online to see which sites were approved for which actions in each county. Representatives of the Division of Forestry were
Severe Storms CS-7 on-site during the burning to ensure that it was accomplished in accordance with the permits. The KYTC worked with the Forestry Division to ensure that debris piles were of the appropriate size and did not get too big for controlled burning. Vegetative debris that was not burned was chipped or ground into mulch. Nearly all of the reduced vegetative debris was recycled. âVery little if any went to landfills,â says Castle. âWe recycled pretty well everything; all of our burn, even our ash, could be incorporated into the soil . . . if you incorporate it into the soil, itâs fertilizer.â Regarding the mulch from chip- ping and grinding, Castle remarks, âBelieve it or not, there was a market for that in different places throughout the state. Some was sold to paper mills, some was mulched to use for gardens, and Kingsford Charcoal took some of it, so we were able to dispose of all the chips and mulch and even sell some of it.â The KYTC has had to obtain letters from the Environmental Energy Cabinet to provide to federal agencies stating that the open-air burns as well as the recycling methods used for the debris were conducted in accordance with the policies of the stateâs Divisions of Air Quality and Waste Management. Castle recommends obtaining this type of documentation and keeping it on file in case it is needed for future reference. Knowing the importance of tracking disaster costs separately from other expenses, the KYTC set up a separate charge code in their accounting system to use for disaster-related labor, equip- ment, materials, and contracted expenses. The debris removal contractors used a paper ticket system, so the debris monitoring contractor established a database to which they scanned and coded every paper ticket, invoice, and other documented expense associated for the disaster. This database is on a one terabyte hard drive. The KYTC also participated in several meetings with FHWA and FEMA to agree on a meth- odology for which agency would cover which costs. The method that was agreed to was based on load tickets and road miles of public roads. This was particularly important for debris removal that was accomplished by force account labor and equipment, as the state did not generate its own load tickets. Instead, the KYTC set up a web-based mapping system showing federal-aid roads and publicly-maintained roads by county. The number of road miles on the FHWA sys- tem was divided by the total miles of publicly-maintained roads in a county to calculate the percentage of roadways on the FHWA system, and that is the amount of reimbursement that FHWA provided on a percentage basis of the total cost of removal for that county. FEMA paid the remaining percentage. So, for example, KYTC performed debris removal in a county having 3,000 miles of federal-aid roads and 10,000 miles total of publicly-maintained roads, FHWA reimbursed KYTC for 30% (or 3,000/10,000) of the total cost of eligible debris removal from roadways in that county. It was important to have written documentation of this agreement as well as what was considered the legal responsibility of the KYTC to remove debris (right- of-way to right-of-way) for future inquiries by FEMA personnel who were not in the meeting regarding eligible costs. Debris removal operations were completed on June 3, 2009. In September 2009, the KYTC learned that the nesting habitat of the endangered Indiana Bat was in some of the areas where debris removal operations had taken place, and that the nesting season had started on May 15, 2009. To be in compliance with federal environmental requirements for protecting endangered species, the KYTC had to develop a methodology for estimating how much of the bat habitat might have been disturbed by debris removal operations occurring between May 15 and June 3. They made a contribution to the Indiana Bat Conversation Fund administered by the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust based on the estimate they developed. They have added the bat habitat areas to their emergency funding routes website so the information is readily available should it be needed in the future.
CS-8 A Debris Management Handbook for State and Local DOTs and Departments of Public Works Frank Castle states that he took away two significant lessons learned from the 2009 ice storm that he has successfully applied to subsequent disasters, including the 2012 tornadoes that struck the state. He advises: 1. Every state and local agency responsible for disaster debris âneeds an emergency operations plan (EOP) and a DMP, and that DMP needs to be part of the EOP. We learned you need both an EOP and a DMP.â Both plans should be formally adopted as policy. Other state and local governments that already have these plans are willing to share them as models for developing your own plans. The FEMA debris guides are also good sources of information. 2. Having a pre-event debris monitoring contract in place is critical. Castle asserts, âI donât care if itâs a city or a county government, they probably ought to have access to a monitoring company that does more than monitoring, that will come in and do a complete database and work with FEMA, FHWA, and NRCS to do all the documentation, scan everything in . . . put it on a hard drive and give it to the agency theyâre working for. Thatâs one lesson I think every agency ought to have.â Using this contracted resource also allows your agency to dedicate its workforce to providing citizens with the services it is responsible to provide.
Abbreviations and acronyms used without definitions in TRB publications: A4A Airlines for America AAAE American Association of Airport Executives AASHO American Association of State Highway Officials AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials ACIâNA Airports Council InternationalâNorth America ACRP Airport Cooperative Research Program ADA Americans with Disabilities Act APTA American Public Transportation Association ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers ASME American Society of Mechanical Engineers ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials ATA American Trucking Associations CTAA Community Transportation Association of America CTBSSP Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis Program DHS Department of Homeland Security DOE Department of Energy EPA Environmental Protection Agency FAA Federal Aviation Administration FHWA Federal Highway Administration FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FRA Federal Railroad Administration FTA Federal Transit Administration HMCRP Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ISTEA Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 ITE Institute of Transportation Engineers MAP-21 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (2012) NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASAO National Association of State Aviation Officials NCFRP National Cooperative Freight Research Program NCHRP National Cooperative Highway Research Program NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NTSB National Transportation Safety Board PHMSA Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration RITA Research and Innovative Technology Administration SAE Society of Automotive Engineers SAFETEA-LU Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (2005) TCRP Transit Cooperative Research Program TEA-21 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998) TRB Transportation Research Board TSA Transportation Security Administration U.S.DOT United States Department of Transportation