northeast indiana debris management plans

Outcomes and Conclusions

A key outcome of the collaborative process is how it created force-multipliers across the counties. All of the counties have the same plans and processes, which allows for staff in each county to know what goes into implementing a plan in the other counties. Knowing the plans and processes in the other counties has multiple benefits in the event of a disaster. For instance, if one county is hit and another county isn’t, the unaffected county can send over staff to assist in plan implementation.

The debris management plan is a living document; it is constantly updated as the parties learn more information and find new opportunities to improve. County officials update trainings and training schedules, GIS maps, and other improvements. One improvement underway is the development of contract templates. These templates would be used by the counties to enter into contracts through a bidding process to respond in the event of a disaster. The goal is to pre-approve contractors for a two-year period. Counties also aim to list the debris staging and processing site locations on the GIS maps. Officials are hoping to integrate debris information gathered at the sites and data from damage assessment teams that would be available to all of the EMA directors. As time goes on, the plan will continue to receive input and evolve to better meet the needs of the counties.

The counties in Northeast Indiana are also seeking plan certification from FEMA. Having a FEMA-certified plan enables the jurisdiction to receive up to 90 percent of cleanup operation costs in a disaster for which the President of the United States issues a major disaster declaration. To get a plan certified by FEMA, communities need to have identified debris staging and processing sites and pre-approved contractors, among other items. Once the plan is ready for certification, the counties and will send it to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, which will then send it to FEMA for review.


Getting the organizational capacity and expertise to manage a project on this scale is difficult for a single county. With other counties in similar positions, the collaboration between counties and others with expertise in the matter, like NISWMD, helped immensely. Without collaboration, the counties would not have been able to develop their plans. Mick Newton, the emergency management director for Noble County gave the following advice:

“The collaboration between all of the groups was essential. The process really brought me to a higher awareness level on these issues at a pace I could absorb and created force-multipliers across the region.”

Project Resources

For more information about developing a debris management plan, contact:

Mick Newton
Noble County Emergency Management Agency 

Steve Christman
Executive Director
Northeast Indiana Solid Waste Management District