USACE officials, Maui County Council and state partners discuss proposed parameters for Alternate Debris Removal Program at council meeting

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District
Published Oct. 1, 2023
Three people sit at a table on a stage and address a council meeting. On a higher stage behind them a woman presides over the meeting.

Col. Jess Curry, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Recovery Field Office commander (pictured left) Cory Koger, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chemist and debris subject matter expert (center) and Erin Wade, Maui County planner (right) answer questions about Bill 86-Debris Removal, Alternate Program at the Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee meeting in Wailuku, Hawai‘i, on Sept. 25. (U.S. Army photo by Erin Jimenez)

The Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee met Sept. 25 to discuss Bill 86-Debris Removal, Alternate Program. If passed, the bill will establish requirements for debris removal from private properties through an alternate program for residents who wish to opt out of the federal government program and remove the debris themselves through private contracts.  

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maui County, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and Maui Department of Health were available to answer questions from council members and the public about the program’s standards.   

The nature of this type of disaster requires coordination at multiple levels of government. USACE, FEMA, Maui County and the Maui Department of Health are responsible for setting the standards for what the cleanup process will look like.  

“This is ultimately a public health emergency and that’s why residents are required to either remove the debris themselves through a contractor of their choice or allow the federal government to do it under right of entry,” said USACE chemist and debris subject matter expert, Cory Koger.  

Under this bill, if residents wish to opt out of the government program, they must hire a private contractor to remove fire debris and clean up properties. Private debris removal is done at the homeowner’s expense and must meet or exceed the standards set by local, state, and federal agencies. 

This includes compliance with all legal requirements for disposal, authorized disposal sites, best management practices for activities on site, proper transportation and documentation of debris, soil testing and erosion control.  

The county is currently working to develop the process, guidance documents and forms for private fire debris removal and will have the information published soon. 

This bill and the meeting were an opportunity for residents to hear their options to make informed decisions for their families and properties.