- Debris collection began on Monday in East Baton Rouge Parish, one of the areas most affected by the recent flood in Louisiana, as reported by the Advocate. Contractor DRC Emergency Services has deployed 20 trucks and estimated it will take about 90 days to make three passes through every neighborhood.
- Preliminary estimates put the cost at $5.6 million to clean up anywhere from 325,000 to 400,000 cubic yards of material. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse the city-parish 75% of debris collection costs and the remainder will come from local landfills funds or reserves.
- Collections have also begun in Livingston Parish — seen as the hardest hit by the flood — with plans for 40 to 50 trucks within the coming days. FEMA has included 20 parishes in its disaster declaration where clean-up efforts are also slated to begin in various stages.
Unlike hurricanes which create more vegetative debris, floods result in a wide array of furniture, construction material and random water-logged items.
As residents begin to clean up, local officials are asking them to be patient with collection efforts. Guidelines on proper separation are being distributed and residents can also track the progress of collections online.
One challenge is that as of Monday the state's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hadn't updated the definition of construction and demolition waste to include mattresses and furniture. This means the items must be separated and sent to different landfills which slows down the process. The DEQ is expected to follow precedent set in previous disasters and change this classification soon.
Waste management plays a key role in the unexpected challenges of disaster recovery, whether that means scrapping 250,000 cars or dealing with thousands of refrigerators after the recent fire in Fort McMurray, Canada. Restoring standard curbside collection services after a disaster is also an issue, as seen in New Orleans where glass recycling wasn't available for 10 years after Hurricane Katrina.