The Types of Hazards Threatening the State
The state discussed in this paper is Texas in the United States. Texas, just like many other states in the United States is prone to various hazards. The common hazards that threaten Texas include earthquake, landslides, geomagnetic storms and sinkholes. Earthquake denotes the tremor of the Earth's surface usually attributed to the movement along a fault line that has been caused either by a volcanic eruption, or manmade blasts. The earth’s pulsation can be of a magnitude strong enough to cause a widespread damage and injury but this can sometimes pass unnoticed. Notably, movements along fault lines account for the majority of destructive earthquakes. Earthquakes are not limited to the surface of the Earth, as they can occur as deep as 400 miles underground. Earthquakes also have the capacity to trigger additional hazards, which may include landslides and tsunamis among others. Secondly, there are the landslides. These are downward movements of soil, rock, or other earth-related materials that are propelled by gravity (Jha, 2010). Debris flows and avalanches, earth and mudflows, rock falls and topples, creep, and lateral spread of rock or soil all constitute landslides. Like landslides, sinkholes are also forms of ground movement occurring suddenly and resulting in major destruction. Sinkholes commonly appear in places where the rock underneath the ground surface is carbonate rock, limestone, salt beds, or porous rocks, which can be easily disintegrated by the circulating underground water (Popov, Itoh, Mander, & Brebbia, 2010). The dissolution of the rock causes caverns and spaces to develop underground. Sink holes have a peculiar characteristic as the land often stays intact until underground spaces open up to trigger a sudden land collapse. The collapses range from minor ones that have little impact to huge ones that can cause the collapse of houses, roads or other overhead kinds of infrastructure. Cumulatively, these hazards pose a major threat the Texas State.
The Policy/Plan and its Consideration on the Types of Debris Produced by Those Hazards
Significant health and environmental challenges often surface during cleanup activities aimed at returning businesses and homes back to normal functionality after a disaster. Potentially life-threatening hazards emanating from leaking carbon monoxide poison and natural gas lines while using un-vented fuel-burning equipment indoors often jeopardize the health of people who come into contact with them. In other instances, failure to remove contaminated materials during flood cleanups or reduce humidity poses serious long-term health risks from molds, bacteria and other micro-organisms. According to the policy set up for the state of Texas, the above types of debris produced are considered hazardous. This policy provides a framework that protects people from the hazards as well as manages them after the occurrence of a disaster (Tang, 2010). The plan highlights various ways of dealing with the risks among them so that debris from disasters is either buried or burnt. Recent observations of burning or burying debris resulted from disasters has demonstrated that these means of waste management may not be acceptable. Citizens are opposed to the possibility of inhaling smoke from open burning. Municipalities too are hesitant regarding the possibility of risking drinking water and soil to contamination as a result of unregulated burial of debris. Municipals often recycle solid waste that is recycled under normal circumstances and what remains of the wastes is disposed of in sanitary landfills or sophisticated combustors, both of which are fitted with devices to minimize pollution. However, in most cases, these standard waste disposal options fall short of sufficient to handle the overwhelming amount of debris in the aftermath of a disaster. The fact that a lot of municipalities are unwilling to deplete or overburden their existing disposal capacity with disaster debris further complicates the waste disposal dilemma. When handling the hurricane debris, the state considered the idea of burning the green waste, but dropped this idea in favor of protecting the county’s air quality. Consequently, all the debris was ground up into mulch and handed over to local citizens for domestic and commercial use. Moreover, basing on the earthquake and other debris, the state’s main policy is recycling of the materials for future use.
The Policy/Plan Discussion on How to Collect, Sort, and Dispose the Debris
The policy provides for a wide discussion on the collection, sorting and disposal of the debris. The policy provides different ways of collecting, sorting and disposal of debris basing on the type of hazard. In case of fire, the policy provides that the state gives property owners six weeks to remove their own debris, and then begins removing the remaining household debris. In clearing the fire debris from the properties, the city collects the same amount of solid waste normally collected within a year. The city recycles some concrete and asphalt and lifts daily landfill limits to accommodate the rest of the debris. Moreover, the policy also provides the mode of handling floods debris. In dealing with the floods debris, the state staff and contractors segregate the debris by waste type. Scrap dealers salvage appliance while individuals collect the wood. Tires are then cut in half for disposal in authorized landfills or ground for roadside use.
The Policy Mentioning of the FEMA's Rules for Reimbursement for Debris Management
Despite the fact that the policy/plan provides different ways of dealing with the debris, it also highlights the FEMA’s rules for reimbursement for debris management. Before the Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste legislation came into effect in the mid-1990s, most communities had an option of burning or burying enormous amounts of debris, which resulted from disasters (Ugai, Yagi, & Wakai, 2012) but in the 90s both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) adopted a different approach towards management of disaster debris. Subsequently, each agency formulated a guide for managing disaster debris. FEMA came up with these rules mainly to protect the environment.
Specification of Human and Physical Resources for the Debris Management Function
A reading through the policy reveals no specification for human and physical resources to have been made. The main thing covered by the plan and policy is dealing with the debris. This is the main aspect in the plan as they provide various ways of collecting and sorting regarding the type of debris.
The Main Lesson Learnt from the Plan not Taught in Class
The plan provides some information that has initially never been learnt in class. The main lesson learnt prom the policy deals with environmental care. Unlike the lesson from the class, the policy comes up with the issue of FEMA. Reading through the plan, one learns that a burning method of dealing with debris is not the best one as opposed by FEMA. FEMA highlights that the waste should be recycled to preserve the environment. One learns that burning of the debris results in pollution. Moreover, the plan also carries the information on dealing with different types of debris. Unlike the lesson from the class, the plan specifies handling of each debris cluster. Initially, it was assumed that all the debris could be dealt with similarly. However, they are dealt with differently. As noted above, in case of fire, the policy provides that the state gives property owners six weeks to remove their own debris, and then begins removing the remaining household debris. This differs from dealing with floods. In case of the floods debris, the state staff and contractors segregate the debris by waste type.
The Overall Assessment of the Plan
The overall assessment of the plan warrants a positive remark. However, the plan has both advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, the main advantage of the plan is that it provides the best details on dealing with debris and cooperating with FEMA. The plan follows the FEMA rules, which are against the burning of the debris. It is therefore important since people of Texas understand the effects avoiding such methods of dealing with the waste. Secondly, the plan highlights various examples of hazards and specific ways of dealing with those hazards. In accordance with the plan, they discuss earthquakes, floods and fire among others. It is imperative since one understands how to deal with a variety of hazards that might occur. The major downside of the plan is the shallowness of the hazards. Despite the fact that the plan highlights a number of hazards and the best mode of dealing with the debris, it fails to elaborate on other risk factors. The content on the hazards is quite shallow and this is the disadvantage of the plan. They should have discussed more hazards so that people are able to deal with a wider range of them.
The Recommendations on Improving the Plan
As noted above, the plan is generally well discussed. However, since the plan has disadvantages, further recommendations for the plan to be improved are needed. The plan should have incorporated more types of hazards. This is essential for people to understand how to approach different types of hazards. Reading through the plan, the highlight on the number of hazards is shallow. This leads to fixed mindset on dealing with the hazards. Arguably, an occurrence of a totally different type of hazard will create confusion since people will lack the techniques of dealing with the hazard. The plan has majorly focused on the hazards that have already occurred in the Texas state like fire. However, they have failed to highlight other hazards like floods, which have not been experienced before in Texas. Despite the fact that these other hazards have not happened, it is ideal for people to learn about them so that they understand how they will deal with them in case they occur in the future. Secondly, the rules of FEMA are not widely covered. FEMA is an organization that deals with the issue of environmental protection. Basing on the fact that the plan is aimed at directing people on how to deal with the debris after the disaster, they should have covered widely on FEMA. The coverage on FEMA is ideal since the main aim of the plan is teaching people on the importance of protecting the environment. With a proper coverage of the FEMA rules, people would understand more on how to deal with different types of debris without affecting the environment.