TRENTON, NJ – Hurricane Sandy left tons of debris scattered throughout New Jersey when it made landfall Oct. 29.
Because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has extensive experience removing debris following natural disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local and state authorities turned to USACE for assistance.
FEMA assigned USACE a debris management technical assistance mission in New Jersey Nov. 6.
USACE placed debris subject matter experts – consultants – in eight New Jersey counties who worked with FEMA, state, county and local authorities to assess the quantities and types of debris and recommend courses of action for its removal.
“Right now our focus is on Monmouth and Ocean, the two counties hardest hit by the storm,” said Bo Ansley, the USACE lead subject matter expert for debris. Other counties receiving technical assistance were Atlantic, Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Middlesex and Union. Quantities of various types of debris are still being calculated but are estimated to total around 6.2 million cubic yards, or enough debris to fill the MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Ordinarily USACE would coordinate the hiring of debris removal contractors. However, in New Jersey, local authorities felt confident they could handle the debris removal mission. USACE subject matter experts work directly with applicants (state, county or municipality) to analyze what the needs are and how to respond.
The state provides locations – or staging areas – for debris management. Contractors, home owners or municipalities can take debris to the staging area where it is sorted by type and taken to the appropriate recycling or disposal site.
Municipalities have three options when it comes to removing debris:
1. Remove the debris with its own hired labor;
2. Use the state’s debris removal contracts that are in place;
3. Get a new contract.
“Our experts help municipalities identify their best option for debris removal,” Ansley said. “This disaster has been unique. We are helping local authorities ensure the debris is removed correctly and maximizing recycling options.”