Mapping the Way To Better Disaster Debris Management

Open Access
Kozak, Katherine Grace
Area of Honors:
Supply Chain and Information Systems
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Felisa Del Carmen Preciado, Thesis Supervisor
  • John C Spychalski, Honors Advisor
  • disaster management
  • disaster debris management
  • FEMA
  • process mapping
Debris management is a critical component of the disaster management process, accounting for up to 40% of the total disaster management budget (Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs 1), yet preparing to deal with the inevitable disaster debris is often overlooked until the crisis itself is occurring. FEMA has identified that strategic planning drastically impacts affected area’s response times and total budgets, but shockingly, most communities do not have a disaster debris management plan prepared. The reason stems mainly from responsibility falling to the local and state governments, who are equipped with insufficient knowledge or experience in debris management and have limited manpower to carry out the planning process. Under Presidentially declared states of emergency, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers will step in to help affected communities deal with disaster debris, but often their involvement comes days to weeks after the initial crisis. By this time, the communities have been left to establish and administer often ill-advised debris removal plans that will affect the total time, budget and environmental impacts of disaster recovery. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the benefits of process mapping and its usefulness in creating and executing better debris management plans within affected communities. By coordinating a FEMA approved process map to disaster debris removal, the uncertainties that currently surround clean up efforts can be mitigated and those local and state governments with the responsibility and authority to directly manage the debris removal process can be empowered to secure more efficient and effective plans to rebuild their communities.