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Sorting Hurricane Debris Can Help Clean Up Communities

Release Date: 10/02/2008
Contact Information: FEMA Office of External Affairs 202-646-4600 or

AUSTIN, Texas -- As families begin cleaning up after Hurricane Ike, state and federal officials offer directions on how to carefully pre-sort their household debris to help cleanup and disposal efforts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are partners in the disaster recovery, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management.

"The first recommendation we have is to follow the guidelines in your community," said Federal Coordinating Officer Sandy Coachman.

"The debris created by a hurricane has unique challenges," State Coordinating Officer Joan Haun added. "We want everyone to help clean up and start getting neighborhoods back to normal, and we want them to do it safely."

Texas residents should separate their household debris in piles as follows:

* Household garbage - bagged trash, discarded food;
* Construction debris - wood, drywall, carpet, furniture;
* Household hazardous waste - motor oil, batteries, bug sprays;
* Vegetation debris - tree branches, leaves, logs;
* "White" goods - refrigerators, washers and dryers, air conditioners;
* Electronics - televisions, radios, computers;
* Orphan containers - butane or propane tanks, chlorine cylinders.

If possible, residents should clearly mark debris containers before disposing. To prevent spills, leaking containers should be placed in plastic bags. Household hazardous waste should never be poured down drains or storm sewers.

If your community offers curbside pick up, please leave all household debris at the curbside. Do not leave debris leaning against trees or poles or on private property, as this makes it harder to retrieve the debris.

If your community does not offer curbside pick up, please contact your local waste disposal agency for instructions.

Once household debris is gathered, it will be processed for final disposal.

For information on local environmental regulations go to

For EPA information on hurricane response, visit:

More information about the Texas Hurricane Ike disaster is available at

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.