Tips for Disposing of Debris after a Natural Disaster

By Kent Coleman, Director of DHEC Division of Solid Waste Management 

After a natural disaster like a hurricane or flood, many residents have to undertake the process of cleaning up and disposing of a wide variety of debris from their home and yard. Here are some tips to help storm debris disposal go smoothly.

  1. Recycle as much as you can to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills. Everything from water bottles to electronics can be recycled at many locations. To find recycling locations  and a list of materials accepted, click here or contact your local waste management program.
  2. Do not burn debris or trash as it can impact the air quality and create additional hazards.
  3. Sort your debris into five categories to help speed up the pick-up process:
    • Vegetative debris – Tree branches, leaves, logs & plants. DO NOT BAG this material.
    • Construction/Demolition material – Carpet, drywall, furniture, lumber, mattresses, plumbing materials, shingles and tiles.
    • Appliances – Air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, stoves, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.
    • Electronics – Computers, televisions, stereos, radios and other devices with an electrical cord.
    • Household Hazardous Waste – Cleaning supplies, lawn chemicals, oils, oil-based paints and stains, pesticides
  4. Do not put normal household trash or bagged debris of any kind out for flood-debris collection. Please continue to follow normal garbage removal schedules for regular household trash.
  5. Debris should be placed curbside without blocking storm drains or the roadway.
  6. If you have or will receive insurance proceeds for the removal or disposal of flood generated debris, do not place on right-of-way for collection.
Sorting Debris

Graphic provided by SCDOT

Because of the high volume of debris needing to be collected after the devastating 2015 flooding, SCDOT is assisting municipalities with debris collection. If you have any questions about debris collection, please contact your local waste management program.

For more information on disaster recovery public and environmental health topics, click here.

5 thoughts on “Tips for Disposing of Debris after a Natural Disaster

  1. Re Ink Cartridges

    I love your Blog, All the point you mention here are really serious point which everyone should be keep in mind after natural disaster and even applied on a normal waste item which we throw anywhere, It should be recycled in a proper way.

    Reply
  2. Zequek Estrada

    I wasn’t aware that burning debris could create an additional hazard. Sorting debris before a dump truck comes and picks it up sounds more important than I thought. I think a plus is that all the debris is taken care of quicker.

    Reply
  3. Brooke McAvoy

    It is interesting to me that you said not to bag the vegetative debris. Why do you suggest this? I tend to bag the tree branches and leave that are left over after I prune my garden. If this is bad for the environment I would surely like to know so that I can clean up properly. Also, what type of professional help would be needed in this type of situation?

    Reply
    1. DHEC Public Health Post author

      Hi Brooke, The recommendation not to bag garden debris was specific to flood recovery efforts. At that time, counties and DOT were dealing with such large amounts of debris collection that it was easier to collect piles vs. bags. For normal circumstances, if your debris collection service accepts debris in yard debris bags, that is just fine. Thanks for the question!

      Reply

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