California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Integrated Waste Management Disaster Plan

Chapter 1: Government Coordination (Steps 1-3)

Background: The key to organizing an immediate and effective recovery program after a disaster is government coordination, both internal and external.

It is important to identify how you/your department fits into the "big picture" of emergency response and recovery. Principal points to cover include identifying:

  • how your jurisdiction will respond in a particular disaster;
  • who should be involved from your agency;
  • how resources will be coordinated;
  • the local, state, and federal agencies involved in the recovery process; and
  • the process to follow in requesting state and federal assistance.

Knowing these things in advance will save valuable time in establishing programs to handle the influx of disaster debris that is inevitable with major disasters.

Contents: The four steps to take in setting up your emergency organization and establishing contacts with the appropriate local, state, and federal agencies involved in disaster debris management are outlined below:

Step Action
1 Define intradepartmental relationships, designate a debris manager, and establish a debris "team."
  Debris team
  Mutual Aid
  Table: Departments and Functions Represented in the Recovery Process
2 Outline and evaluate the potential for particular disaster event, and develop functional checklists for each likely disaster.
3 Become familiar with emergency response plans, procedures and the Standardized Emergency Management System.
  Table: Flow of requests for assistance
  Emergency Planning
  Local Emergency Response Plan
  State Emergency Plan
  Federal Response Plan
  SEMS Training
  Emergency Response Procedures
4 Identify local, state, and federal agencies involved in disaster debris management.
  Local Responsibilities
  Local Enforcement Agency
  Emergency waiver of standards regulations
  State Agency Responsibilities
  Federal Agency Responsibilities

Step 1: define intradepartmental relationships, designate a debris manager, and establish a debris "team"

Identify teams: Identify the key players in your organization, by position, who will have some responsibility for developing and implementing a debris management program. Identify those who will be on your "Team" and define their roles accordingly.

Work with the person in your jurisdiction who will be responsible for coordinating the overall disaster response so that the debris management functions are integrated into the overall disaster response and recovery.

Coordinate with other "teams," particularly with whomever is in charge of communication and information.

Debris team: It is important to identify beforehand all those entities that are needed to coordinate and implement a diversion program.

Typically, the Solid Waste Planning Department, Public Works Department, and the Local Enforcement Agency represent the three areas with the most direct responsibility in:

  • establishing diversion programs;
  • removing or temporarily storing disaster-related debris; and
  • coordinating the enforcement and permitting of solid waste facilities and operations respectively.

Example: While the Solid Waste Planning Department may develop a debris diversion program, it may be the Public Works Department that writes the contract to implement the program or the Local Enforcement Agency that can provide guidance in establishing a temporary storage or processing site. Unless there is internal coordination, the diversion program may not be implemented.

"Core" team: The complete listing of those staff who could be involved in a disaster recovery program are listed in the table on pages 6-9. Of these staff, some will devote their time solely to debris management programs. Keep in mind that your core team will be comprised of these staff, but that other staffing will be needed for the other support functions not directly related to recycling or debris management programs.

City/County OES: The city/county Office of Emergency Services (OES) contact is a critical member of the "Team." This person could be a member of the Fire Department, the Sheriff's Department, or the city/county OES office, depending on your jurisdiction's organization.

Develop a working relationship with this person now as he/she can you help work within the emergency response system before and after a disaster and also help in developing your requests for debris management assistance.

More importantly, contact the city/county OES (or emergency services department) to receive information on Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) training for field, management, and executive staff who may be involved in emergency response activities.

Define roles: Each member's role within the group must be established and reporting relationships made explicit. This is especially important if someone is lead for staff who would in normal circumstances be subordinate to those supervised.

Assign management responsibilities so that it is clear who is in charge and has the responsibility for making final decisions.

Assignments and responsibilities should be given before a disaster occurs so that specific staff members understand their roles and responsibilities beforehand.

Communication: With a number of teams or groups working independently yet in concert during the recovery process, it is critical to clearly establish the responsibility for the coordination and dissemination of information. This is important so that timely and consistent information is released to the general public, contractors, and the recovery workers.

There should be one spokesperson who represents the organization and speaks on its behalf and one office (typically the public information office) through which all communication is directed. Institute a process whereby information is shared with all teams directing the disaster recovery. Refer to Chapter 11, Public Information, for more detail.

Mutual aid: If an agency's resources are overwhelmed by a disaster, it is possible that neighboring jurisdictions can loan staff to assist in the recovery, provided they are not affected by the disaster.

EMMA: [1] The Emergency Managers Mutual Aid (EMMA) program administered by State OES may also be an option. The purpose of EMMA is to provide professional emergency management personnel in the form of mutual aid to impacted areas to support disaster operations.

Examples: Solid waste planner to act as technical advisor to assist in establishing a debris management program.

Public works staff members to assist in implementing debris management program, such as training field staff in proper procedure of source separation and debris collection to ensure materials can be recycled or reused.

Financial and accounting staff members to set up tracking/accounting system for disaster-related costs to ensure FEMA reimbursement.

Program structure: In response to the Northridge Earthquake, the City of Los Angeles' Department of Public Works implemented an earthquake debris removal program. This program was led by the Bureau of Engineering, with support from the Bureau of Contract Administration, which provided field monitoring of contractors, and the Bureau of Sanitation, Integrated Solid Waste Management Office, which directed the recycling component.

Engineering organization: Within the Bureau of Engineering, the Northridge Earthquake Recovery Division was created. Staff from various Divisions within the Bureau were assigned to the new ad hoc division and assumed responsibilities for different aspects of the earthquake recovery. After the work was completed, the Division was subsequently disbanded.

Advantages: This aided in coordinating all earthquake-related activities and simplified billing for debris-related costs since the City could document that all activities performed by this Division were earthquake related and therefore reimbursable by FEMA.

Table: The table below lists by function those departments typically involved in the overall recovery process. Each department is equally important in the process, since various functions are dependent upon one another.

Source: This table was modified from the OES Earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction Guidelines for Local Government, Southern California Earthquake Preparedness Project, California OES, 1991, to include solid waste functions.

Note: Disaster debris management activities are but one part of the overall recovery process. Consequently, it is important to understand the recovery process, how debris management fits into the bigger picture and relates to the other recovery functions, and how state and federal assistance should be requested.

Departments and Functions
Represented in Recovery Process

Agency Function
Chief Administrative Officer,
City Manager
  • political process management;
  • interdepartmental coordination;
  • policy development;
  • decisionmaking.
Planning or Public Works
  • land use;
  • zoning;
  • variances;
  • permits and controls for new development; environmental review.
  • designation of temporary storage sites; environmental assessment; arranging for use of sites.
Building and Safety,
Public Works,
Fire Marshal,
  • building regulation;
  • inspection and demolition;
  • code enforcement;
  • plan review;
  • construction permits.
  • contract preparation for building demolition; issuance of construction permits with diversion clause.
Purchasing Agent,
Risk Management,
Finance Management,
Public Works,
Chief Administrative Officer,
  • public finance;
  • budgeting;
  • contracting;
  • accounting and claims processing;
  • taxation;
  • insurance settlements.
  • Process Damage Survey Reports.
  • Track expenditure impact of post-disaster labor and materials.
  • Issue and monitor accounting procedures required to track disaster related overtime and other unusual expenditures.
Emergency  Services
  • requests for disaster assistance and liaison with providers;
  • on-site support;
  • claims and project application management.
  • preparation of documentation for FEMA approval of diversion programs.
Legal Staff
  • advice on emergency authorities and actions;
  • preparation of opinions;
  • preparation of new ordinances, and regulations.
  • For example, ordinance for temporary storage sites; emergency authority for staff to execute contracts on behalf of governing body.
Public Works; Street, Water, Power, Sewage, sanitary and similar departments
  • restoration of community utilities services, streets, sewage and solid waste disposal and similar locally operated functions;
  • road clearing operations, ensure resumption of operation at solid waste and recycling facilities.
  • Maintain clear access to SW facilities.
  • Maintain and protect stationary and mechanical equipment.
General Services, Procurement, Personnel, Administrative Services, Information Services
  • government operations and communications
  • space;
  • supplies and equipment;
  • vehicles;
  • personnel;
  • related support, including necessary contracts.
  • (Arrange for personnel to assist in recovery; write contracts for CCC/EDD personnel for debris removal; arrange logistics for CCC)
  • post-disaster geographic information system (GIS) responsibilities to include mapping of diversion/disposal sites,
  • debris pickup status,
  • provide information to Public Information Officer for Public Service Announcements.
Public Information Office
  • Inform the public through all media as to disruption and resumption of waste collection services and recycling facility accessibility.
  • Educate public through media of emergency practices to be undertaken by households in facilitating special diversion/recycling programs.
  • Act as the principal spokesperson for the organization. Establish one office through which all communication is directed. In charge or rumor control.
  • Issue timely and consistent information to the general public, media, recovery workers, and contractors.
Local Enforcement Agency;
Solid Waste Management Department; Community Planning; Environmental Health Services; Recycling Services
  • Assist in technical construction and siting of facilities for emergency storage/processing of solid waste.
  • Secure construction sites and arrangements with contractors at solid waste facilities.
  • Assist in assessing post-disaster damage to facilities.
  • Contribute technical expertise in siting and operation of facilities for emergency storage/processing of solid waste.
  • Identify recycling, reuse and disposal sites.
  • Identify possible storage areas at existing solid waste facilities; at other publicly or privately owned property.
  • Identify permits required under state requirements, local requirements.
  • Determine environmental controls needed; develop monitoring program.
  • Develop plan to assist property owners in cleanup.
  • Develop diversion or recycling program.
  • Contact haulers, brokers, processors for disaster debris.
Recycling Market Development Zone Coordinator
  • Help identify markets for collected disaster debris.
  • Contact/set up waste exchange
Household Hazardous Waste Coordinator
  • Develop or coordinate HHW program.

Step 2: outline and evaluate potential disaster events and develop checklists for each likely disaster [2]

Agency actions: Describe the jurisdiction's primary actions for each identified disaster event. The role of each element of the organization should be explained briefly. In doing this, it should become clear which other functions are needed to respond to a disaster and which agency is responsible for those functions. This is the beginning of the establishment of an emergency organization, or debris team, to deal with disaster debris.

Checklists: Develop functional checklists for each likely disaster. Checklists should be accompanied by a listing of resources, directories, contacts, and other information essential to responding to disasters. In addition to a jurisdiction's resources, include a directory of similar resources available from other local/state/federal agencies [3].

Following are some useful checklists to consider:

  • Alert lists, including a roster of executive and emergency management staff. Include home and office numbers, which should be kept confidential.
  • Equipment and supply summaries, including a brief description of type of equipment, amount of supplies available, and location.
  • Directories of field and regional locations, including personnel assigned and a brief listing of available equipment and supplies.
  • List of private sector supplies and equipment that can augment or substitute for agency resources.
  • Media listings including television, radio, print, media, and wire services.
  • Any maps, charts, and diagrams of potential use to agency staff during disaster response.

A good example is a map of major transportation corridors. If these are damaged or impassable, it is critical to have a contingency plan so that emergency vehicles can respond on established routes to clear roadways and remove debris.

Also, if the roads to the recycling and/or disposal facilities are blocked, it is imperative to have contingency routes or facilities available to speed up the disaster cleanup.

Step 3: become familiar with emergency response plans and procedures and sems

Identify role: Become familiar with emergency response plans and procedures and plan disaster response accordingly. A county or local Office of Emergency Services office will most likely be responsible for developing and maintaining the jurisdiction's emergency response plan and may provide training to the jurisdiction's staff on emergency response procedures. Contact the local OES staff first to see whether the local emergency plan addresses debris management and to identify staff responsibilities.

Emergency operations: Also become familiar with local responsibilities for emergency management operations. Your local OES staff may be able to provide training and exercises in emergency response procedures in accordance with the Standardized Emergency Management System.

Requests for assistance: The table below shows how the requests for assistance begin at the local level and go up the chain of command (in concert with SEMS) to the federal government. The example used below is for a major area-wide disaster with damage in multiple operational areas (counties). Other scenarios will vary.

  Agency Responsibilities [4]
1 Emergency Event/Disaster  
2 Incident Command Post (ICP)
field level
  • Field units from the affected jurisdictions respond as feasible using the Incident Command System.
  • Incident Command Posts may be established at various sites throughout the disaster area.
  • Resources are requested through dispatch centers, department operations centers, or emergency operation centers (EOC).
3 Department Operations Center (DOC)
local government level
In some cases, a jurisdiction may establish a Department Operations center (DOC). This is a facility used as an EOC by a distinct discipline or agency, such as flood operations, fire, medical, hazardous materials, Department of Public Works, or Department of Health. The DOC operates within local government but is a satellite EOC.
  • The DOC is the location from which centralized management of that discipline's or agency's emergency response is performed.
  • The DOC must have a communications mechanism to the EOC so that it does not operate independently.
4 Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
local government level
This includes those facilities used by municipalities and special districts. Local government EOCs will coordinate activities among departments.
  • Local government supports Incident Commanders with available resources
  • Local government activates its EOC and notifies the Operational area (OA ) lead agency.
  • Resources are requested through OA emergency management staff and mutual aid coordinators.
  • Local government retains responsibility for managing the response.
5 Operational Area (County) The facility which coordinates the delivery of requested resources from among local governments within the operational area (county) and also serves as the communication link between the local government level and the regional level.
  • Lead agency activates OA emergency operations center.
  • OA emergency management staff and mutual aid coordinators locate and mobilize resources requested by local government.
  • Resources not available within the OA are requested through the OES Regional Administrator and regional mutual aid coordinators.
6 Region
There are three Regional EOCs that support and coordinate a variety of Office of Emergency Services services within mutual aid regions. They are:
  • Coastal Region - Oakland;
  • Southern Region - Los Alamitos; and
  • Inland Region - Sacramento

OES Regions provide services to operational areas (counties) and local governments (see Attachment A for Regional EOC locations).

  • OES Regional Administrator activates REOC (Regional Emergency Operations center) and notifies OES headquarters.
  • OES Regional Administrator and regional mutual aid coordinators locate and mobilize resources available within the region and from state agencies.
  • Additional resources are requested through the SOC.
  • State agency representatives are requested for the REOC to assist in coordinating support to the disaster area.
  • REOC monitors situation and updates State Operational center.
7 State
State OES will activate and operate a State Level EOC during periods of emergencies and disasters.
  • SOC is activated and state agency representatives are requested to staff the SOC.
  • SOC coordinates state agency response and mobilization of mutual aid resources from unaffected regions.
  • SOC may direct activation of other OES REOCs to assist in resource mobilization.
  • State agency department operations centers are activated.
  • Federal assistance is requested, if needed.
  • SOC continuously monitors situation
8 Federal
  • Activates and implements the Federal Response Plan (FRP) upon the Presidential Declaration of a Major Emergency or Disaster. The Presidential declaration makes federal resources available to the affected areas.

Emergency planning

Five levels: There are five levels of California SEMS emergency planning:

  • field,
  • local government,
  • operational area,
  • regional, and
  • state.

The planning documents for each level are listed below, followed by the Federal Response Plan.

Planning Levels Planning Documents
Field response
  • Incident Action Plan
Local Government
  • Multi-hazard Functional Plan
Operational Area
  • Operational Area Plan/Emergency Operations center Procedures

(The county, city or special district may serve as the Operational Area Emergency Operations center).

  • State Emergency Plan/Regional Emergency Operations center Procedures
  • State Emergency Plan/State Operations center Procedures
  • Federal Response Plan

1. Local emergency response plan

Local level: The local level of the emergency management system consists of the emergency management staff of cities and counties. The local Emergency Operations center field response occurs at this level.

County staff are responsible for unincorporated areas within counties and may also function as the operational area emergency management staff. Each jurisdiction may act alone or with other jurisdictions.

Local plans

Local emergency plans are considered extensions of the California Emergency Plan. Many jurisdictions have used the Local Government Planning Guidance (formerly known as the Multi-hazard Functional Planning Guidance) as the basis for their emergency plan.

Local responsibilities

The Emergency Services Act provides a basis for local emergency management programs. Local ordinances and resolutions establish local responsibilities for emergency management operations.

The responsibilities of local jurisdictions are outlined in the table below:

  Local Jurisdiction Responsibilities [5]
1 Identify all hazards that may pose a major threat to the jurisdiction.
2 Develop and maintain up-to-date emergency plans which are consistent with the State Emergency Plan and the California Master Mutual Aid Agreement.
3 Develop maps of areas within the jurisdiction which may be subject to disasters; for example, geologic hazards, floodplains, and areas below dams.
4 Develop plans for meeting all conditions which could constitute a local emergency. Such plans provide for the effective mobilization of all local resources, both public and private.
5 Develop a standard form available for use in requesting the Governor to proclaim a State of Emergency.
6 Provide OES with estimates of the severity and extent of damage resulting from a disaster, including dollar value of both public and private damage sustained as well as estimates of resource costs required to alleviate the situation

2. State Emergency Plan [6]

What it is: The State Emergency Plan (SEP) describes the organization, agencies, and responsibilities of the emergency management system. The SEP identifies mutual aid resources provided by state, local, and federal agencies, and the private sector. It also summarizes the emergency responsibilities of state agencies.

Authority: The California Emergency Services Act (ESA) establishes the authority for conducting emergency operations following the proclamation of an emergency by the Governor, or an emergency proclamation by a local jurisdiction.

State OES: The Office of Emergency Services (OES) is part of the Governor's Office and performs executive functions assigned by the Governor. The OES Director is assisted by representatives from other state agencies. The OES Director coordinates the emergency activities of all state agencies during a state of war emergency, a state of emergency, or a local emergency.

3. Federal Response Plan [7]

Federal level: When a disaster overwhelms the capabilities of state and local governments, they may request help from the federal government. The multi-agency disaster response program that helps states during and after a disaster is the Federal Response Plan (FRP).

How the FRP works: The President may provide federal resources to the affected areas by declaring an emergency or disaster. Once the President has made such a declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for activating and implementing the FRP.

Resources: The Federal Response Plan groups federal assistance into 12 functional areas called Emergency Support Functions or ESFs. These include fire fighting, transportation, health and medical services, public works, urban search and rescue, and others.

SEMS Training [8]

Get trained: Receive training on the standardized emergency management system. Those involved in debris management should become an integral part of their jurisdiction's emergency response system in order to:

  • effectively coordinate the debris management response with the overall disaster response,
  • know how to request assistance through proper channels, and
  • obtain reimbursement for eligible disaster costs.

Emergency response is now based on the Standardized Emergency Management System described below. For more information, contact your local OES coordinator or the State OES Regional Office nearest you (see Attachment A for a listing of offices).

Purpose: As a result of the 1991 East Bay Hills fire in Oakland, Senate Bill 1841 was passed by the Legislature and regulations subsequently implemented in 9/94 that established the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). The intent of the law was to improve the coordination of state and local emergency response in California.

Framework: The framework of SEMS includes:

  • the Incident Command System (ICS),
  • multi-agency or inter-agency coordination,
  • Master Mutual Aid Agreement and system, and
  • the operational area concept.

ICS is the nationally used standardized emergency management system for field level response, commonly used by fire and law enforcement.

Must use SEMS: State agencies are mandated to use SEMS. Local jurisdictions, including special districts, must use SEMS in responding to emergencies and disasters in order to be reimbursed for eligible personnel-related costs under state disaster assistance programs.

Emergency response procedures [9]

Learn system: Become familiar with your agency's emergency response procedures and coordinate the disaster debris response accordingly. Typically the emergency response will be coordinated at the department, city, or regional level.

EOC: In general, the Emergency Operations center (EOC) is the facility used to coordinate the overall jurisdictional response and support to an emergency.

DOC: Is a Department Emergency Operations center which supports the jurisdiction's EOC and specific field operations.

If a Department Operations center (DOC), or the jurisdiction's Emergency Operations center (EOC) is activated, determine who from the agency is the designated representative and coordinate requests for debris management and clearance assistance to the DOC or EOC through the appropriate channels.

Additional information: For additional information on disaster assistance and debris management guidelines, review the regulations governing disaster assistance (Attachment B) and the federal Debris Removal Guidelines (Attachment C).

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Last updated: November 16, 2004
Disaster Preparedness and Response
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