After the Storm: Dealing with Sandy Debris

Photo courtesy of New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Photo courtesy of New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

At the invitation of New York City Council, Global Green USA's Coalition for Resource Recovery Interim Director Lily Kelly testified yesterday at a public oversight hearing on Post-Storm Cleanup and the Effects on the City's Health and Infrastructure.

At the hearing, citizen, government and nonprofit groups described the plight of the many New Yorkers struggling to recover from the impacts of the storm. Commissioners from the Departments of Sanitation, Health and Mental Hygiene, Parks and Recreation, and Environmental Protection recounted how their agencies prepared for and responded to the storm. Members of City Council expressed gratitude to City employees, including Department of Sanitation's 6,100 employees for their work in responding to extremely difficult circumstances and for helping to get the City back and running after this catastrophic event.

One of the impacts from Super Storm Sandy is that it inundated local areas with an overwhelming amount of yard debris and construction and demolition waste. During the course of two days, local areas received more waste than would typically be received over the course of years. Recovering value from these materials in times of crisis is a tremendous challenge.

Our testimony focused on reducing the amount of post-storm debris that goes to landfill through improved local infrastructure and markets. Suggestions included planning in advance for where and how to sort and recover more of the clean wood and metals from building debris, as well as expanding markets for compost created from debris such as trees and limbs to ensure that woody wastes are cleaned up and put to use quickly after storms. We look forward to working with city agencies and council members to improve our city's resilience, and keep our valuable resources out of landfills.