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Disaster Assistance

Debris Removal


The costs associated with debris removal from private property are included under the Disaster Assistance Program.

CFR Title 44 Section 206.224 describes debris removal as follows:

Debris removal. (a) Public interest. Upon determination that debris removal is in the public interest, the Regional Director may provide assistance for the removal of debris and wreckage from publicly and privately owned lands and waters.

Such removal is in the public interest when it is necessary to: (1) Eliminate immediate threats to life, public health, and safety; or (2) Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property; or (3) Ensure economic recovery of the affected community to the benefit of the community-at-large; or (4) Mitigate the risk to life and property by removing substantially damaged structures and associated appurtenances as needed to convert property acquired through a FEMA hazard mitigation program to uses compatible with open space, recreation, or wetlands management practices. Such removal must be completed within two years of the declaration date, unless the Associate Director for Readiness, Response and Recovery extends this period.

(b) Debris removal from private property. When it is in the public interest for an eligible applicant to remove debris from private property in urban, suburban and rural areas, including large lots, clearance of the living, recreational and working area is eligible except those areas used for crops and livestock or unused areas.

(c) Assistance to individuals and private organizations. No assistance will be provided directly to an individual or private organization, or to an eligible applicant for reimbursement of an individual or private organization, for the cost of removing debris from their own property. Exceptions to this are those private nonprofit organizations operating eligible facilities.

On September 19, 2005, FEMA issued a news release furthering this policy, stating in part:

"While FEMA typically reimburses localities for removing storm-related debris from public rights of way, the agency will also pay for debris from private property. Affected state and local governments need only alert FEMA that widespread debris on private property has created a health and safety risk requiring debris removal and identify the areas that must be cleared. This is done via a letter to the Federal Coordinating Officer in the respective state and a form FEMA is providing to all affected governments. The federal-state agreements already signed by the three states indemnify the federal government against potential claims arising from the debris removal process."

"This new policy affirms FEMA's commitment to simplify the debris removal process," said Acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison.

Click here for a copy of the press release.

Click here for source materials.


Last Modified: 100605 1136

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