In the aftermath of a tornado, hurricane or other natural disasters, the cleanup process can be physically, emotionally, and environmentally taxing.
While some might think it’s simply a matter of throwing waste and trash in a dumpster, there is far more involved in cleaning up after a tropical storm or natural disaster in an environmentally conscious way.
First, it’s important to take the time to sort the waste into categories such as food, clothing, appliances, furniture, and yard debris.
FOOD: If you have been evacuated or experienced an extended power outage, it’s likely you’ve got food in your refrigerator that has gone bad. Try to separate the food waste into what can be composted—fruit, grains, vegetables, eggshells—and what needs to be thrown in the garbage.
CLOTHING: Clothing that has been ruined in the storm can be recycled through organizations such as the Goodwill or Salvation Army that can sell damaged clothing as textiles to be turned into insulation, rags and carpet.
APPLIANCES: If your appliances have been destroyed, check with local recycling agencies to see if they can be recycled or repurposed in some way.
FURNITURE: If floodwater or debris destroyed your furniture, start with drying it out and then seeing how it can either be salvaged or recycled.
STORM DEBRIS: Storm debris includes tree limbs, soiled carpeting, damaged fencing, ruined appliances, wet drywall, and waterlogged electronics and should not be placed in garbage bags or included with your regular household garbage items or recyclables. Be careful to avoid blocking storm drains and roadways with your items. These materials will need to be removed by FEMA or a storm debris removal company.
Keeping these items separate will allow your regular garbage and recycling collection to resume and continue quickly and safely and help prevent odors and other safety hazards while state and local agencies handle the additional storm damage and debris.