Unleashing the Power of Planning: A Measurement of the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Pre-Disaster Debris Management Plans

Crowley, Julia
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
Disaster debris management operations make up a significant portion of recovery expenses. The debris management process is marked by an extreme complexity with a myriad of stakeholders. Without a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, the process is often exacerbated by increased time and costs for debris removal. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first released a report in 1995 on debris management planning in an effort to encourage communities to develop pre-disaster debris management plans. The following study aims to examine how the presence of a plan makes disaster debris management “effective” and “efficient” as well as identify optimal plan characteristics through a mixed methods approach. Ninety-five counties in the United States who received major disaster declarations between 2012-2015 were surveyed to examine the quality of their debris management processes. Forty-nine of these counties had debris management plans while forty-six did not. Statistical tests were conducted to address discrepancies in the “effectiveness” and “efficiency” of the debris management processes between the two groups. Such tests were able to prove that counties with pre- disaster debris management plans were more “effective” and partially more “efficient” with debris management than counties without plans. Four counties who indicated “effective” and “efficient” debris management plans in their surveys were selected as case studies and visited by the researcher. Open-ended interviews were conducted with the county emergency management directors and other staff members that worked on the debris management processes in an effort to identify the characteristics of an optimal debris management plan. The study uses these characteristics as well as guidelines put forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the EPA to develop a rubric for evaluating debris management plans. This plan evaluation rubric is then applied to the debris management plans of fifteen counties.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
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