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Stories Added - September 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

FEMA facts on debris removal
Polk County Enterprise - September 2008

AUSTIN – More than 4.2 million cubic yards of debris resulting from Hurricane Rita have so far been removed in Southeastern Texas. With an estimated 3.5 million cubic yards of debris to go, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management (GDEM) kindly ask private property owners to help speed up debris removal and recovery efforts. The three most common forms of debris: VEGETATIVE - Fallen trees and brush. WHITE GOODS - Large appliances that have become inoperative or fallen to unsanitary conditions because of food spoilage or water saturation. White goods include washing machines and clothes dryers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, gas and electric stoves, TVs and computer monitors and water heaters or coolers. HAZARDOUS HOUSEHOLD WASTE - Refrigerators, freezers and window air conditioners containing Freon; gas powered lawn-mowers or blowers; and household cleaners, paints and solvents, and batteries, oxygen and propane tanks.

Hazardous household waste must be handled according to the provisions of municipal, county, tribal, state and federal environmental laws. Private property owners can speed the removal of these types of debris by: • Moving debris to the public right-of-way, since contractors can’t go onto private property. • Separating debris by type: VEGETATIVE, WHITE GOODS and HAZARDOUS HOUSEHOLD WASTE. • Following basic rules for fire safety, rodent control and common sense. • Notifying local officials about the existence of WHITE GOODS and HAZARDOUS HOUSEHOLD WASTE. • Adhering to local burn bans. In addition, homeowners should also sort and push to the right-ofway storm related debris, such as blown off shingles and nonremodeled material so it can also be removed by USACE or its contractors.

Through its Public Assistance program, FEMA reimburses local governments a percentage of the costs of debris removal on public property. FEMA does not typically pay for removing debris on private property unless it poses a significant threat to public health or safety. For those unable to handle debris cleanup on their own property, such as the elderly, voluntary agencies often step in to assist hurricane victims. Citizens with emergency needs for debris removal should contact their local emergency management office. Homeowners, renters and nonfarm business owners may qualify for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover uninsured or under-insured losses associated with the disaster, such as debris removal services. SBA offers loans to homeowners up to $200,000 for disaster-related home repairs and $40,000 to homeowners and renters for personal property losses. Debris removal costs are included in those limits.

To apply for federal disaster assistance, which may include an SBA low-interest disaster loan, call FEMA by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired. FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

 

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