– Gov. Bev Perdue has directed state agencies to help North Carolinians properly collect and dispose of debris left behind by Hurricane Irene.
State agencies, including the N.C. Department of Transportation and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, have been assisting local governments and residents with immediate threats to public health and safety since Irene came through North Carolina Aug. 27.
The Governor has now directed those departments, along with the N.C. Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to help with collection and proper disposal of debris from the storm.
“We are taking every step possible to help those who suffered losses in the storm,” Gov. Perdue said. “That means more than financial help. Whenever and wherever we can, our agencies are on the ground helping North Carolina’s families, farms and businesses to recover.”
Perdue’s Executive Order directs the state Department of Transportation to help local governments in storm-damaged counties by picking up debris along state roads. Officials with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources are working with local governments and the DOT to approve temporary staging sites for solid waste management.
If people are unable to move debris to the edge of their property, the Governor’s Executive Order directs them to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. Forest Service for help in following local and state laws regarding burying or burning vegetative debris.
DENR encourages people to take debris to approved disposal sites or take advantage of debris pick-up by state and local government. North Carolina law prohibits most open burning because the smoke from outdoor fires can cause health problems and air pollution. If people burn debris, they should obtain a permit from the N.C. Forest Service and only burn vegetative debris such as small tree limbs. State law does not allow open burning of manmade materials such as tires, trash, treated wood and chemicals. Some materials found in damaged buildings may also be considered hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of in compliance with federal requirements.
“Outdoor burning can cause a lot of smoke that is unhealthy to breathe, particularly for people with respiratory issues,” said Sheila Holman, director of the Division of Air Quality. “If burning is necessary, our staff will work with local governments and citizens to be sure it is done safely and in compliance with the law.”
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