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U.S. EPA is working with states, tribes, and territories, to expand the Disaster Debris Recovery Tool (DDRT), an interactive tool that maps recyclers and landfills capable of managing disaster debris. The DDRT can be used by disaster response, recovery, and planning experts to advance the safe recovery, recycling, and disposal of disaster debris.

CHALLENGE

In the wake of a disaster, both government agencies and the public face unique challenges that complicate even the simplest of tasks. Cleaning up and disposing of debris is one such undertaking: debris may be unusual or hazardous; road conditions and closures may impair transport; and recycling and trash infrastructure may be damaged or overwhelmed. Embracing the opportunity for a technology solution, EPA created a unique mapping tool to help agencies at all levels of government manage these unusual situations.

BENEFITS

Government officials, disaster response planners, and members of the public can use this interactive mapping tool to make the process of disaster debris and recovery:

  • Faster – Responders avoid wasted trips, traffic, and closures, and communities recover sooner.
  • Safer – Responders and passersby sustain fewer injuries, and the risk of environmental impact is minimized.
  • Smoother – Agencies preserve staff time and resources, and communities increase recycling levels, saving money and landfill capacity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The DDRT runs on a geographic information system platform and provides location and other information for 12 types of recycling facilities and landfills that handle disaster debris. DDRT data cover more than 6,000 facilities across 13 states, with expansion to a full national dataset planned for 2019. The tool also contains advanced features to help responders mark up the map with staging areas and other landmarks, track drive times and elevation profiles, and navigate the fastest routes around hazards.

The DDRT launched in 2008 in response to the large volume of material landfilled instead of recycled or recovered after Hurricane Katrina, and the current expansion begun in 2018 has included robust coordination with state and tribal stakeholders. The DDRT team recently presented its tools to an audience of 900 at the EPA Sustainable Materials Management Web Academy. Illinois EPA has successfully used the DDRT for tornado response operations, and tribal agencies in Region 5 have used it to develop disaster debris plans and training programs.

UPCOMING MILESTONES

  • The DDRT web application is migrating to the EPA GeoPlatform mapping tool.
  • Data for all 50 states and five territories will be published in the GeoPlatform in 2019.
  • The DDRT team is exploring shared solutions to provide accessibility and automate updates and long-term maintenance of the data.

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