Federal, State, and Local agencies gathered this week for a workshop to help NOAA Marine Debris Program contractors draft a plan, or rather a field guide for proper protocol when addressing waterway debris caused by disasters, including hurricanes and the common nor’easter. Stakeholders spent two days at the NOAA Laboratory on Piver’s Island (Beaufort, NC) reviewing draft documents created by NOAA contractors and helped identify gaps in service and defined roles and proper protocols for managing waterway debris in the State.
The plan is scheduled to be published by the end of May 2016 and will be made available for local Emergency Managers, Solid Waste Staff, and Planners to use as a guide to address removal of waterway debris. Most of the time spent during the workshop was to make sure NC has a proper flowchart of who to call “if and when”, which agencies are responsible for removal, and if removal costs are eligible for public assistance funding.
A lot of progress has been made in the State to address storm debris management including down trees on roadways and properly permitted debris management sites, but not a lot of specific protocol information related to “waterway debris” has been available in the past.
Several agencies, including US Army Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard, Natural Resources Conservation Service, NC Emergency Management, NC DACS Stream Debris Removal Project, NC DEQ Waste Management, and Dare County Emergency Management, covered what their roles are in managing or providing resources or assistance in debris removal through short presentations followed by Q&A on day one. Day two was mostly spend on roundtable discussion and facilitated group work on developing what needs to be included in the plan/guide as well as breakout group sessions on how well the flow chart worked to identify lead agencies when addressing specific scenarios which included containership spillage, oiled debris, and debris from a major disaster declaration.
The one big take away from the workshop, other than that local officials should use the flow chart to ensure with identifying lead roles, resources, and potential funding assistance, is that if there is a incident that creates waterway debris on public property, your first call should be to the National Response Center 1.800.424.8802.