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State guidelines issued to assist Gaylord-area residents with cleanup

In the aftermath of a tornado and severe storms that caused widespread damage May 20 in Gaylord, residents and businesses impacted by the incident are assessing the destruction and conducting cleanup efforts. As they begin this work, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) offers basic guidance on how to manage debris.

From addressing immediate hazards to exploring disposal options, EGLE urges residents to follow guidelines set by the state.

“In times of disaster, we are keeping the health and safety of Michiganders at the forefront of cleanup efforts that protect our state’s environment,” EGLE Director Liesl Clark said. “We are committed to help build a safe path to recovery.”

EGLE offers the following guidelines:

  • After evacuation, be sure to check with local authorities before returning. Upon arrival at the property, conduct a visual inspection to check for any downed power lines.
  • Itemize items on property, with special attention to hazardous materials such as paint, motor oil and solvents. For a list of common types of household hazardous waste and local household hazardous waste collection contacts, visit Michigan.gov/EGLEHHW.
  • Use caution when walking through obstructions or large debris piles to avoid hidden hazards, such as nails and other sharp objects.
  • Residents and business owners should treat storm-related construction and demolition debris as potentially containing asbestos, and maintain it in a wet condition until disposal. For more information on handling asbestos waste, visit Michigan.gov/EGLEAsbestos.
  • Debris from homes and businesses should be collected for disposal. This includes structural materials, roofing, insulation, siding, appliances, carpet, furniture and other household items. Otsego County will coordinate mass debris collection and disposal in conjunction with the State Emergency Operations Center. Residents who do not independently manage waste disposal are encouraged to contact local and county municipalities for specific direction.
  • Storm-generated woody and vegetative debris such as trees and untreated wood should be sorted and allowed to dry. These items can be chipped into mulch, composted or saved for municipal collection in areas that do so.
  • Air quality regulations only allow open burning of trees, logs, brush and stumps. For questions about open burning, visit Michigan.gov/OpenBurning.

EGLE’s Materials Management Division (MMD) has the authority to issue emergency disposal authorizations to municipalities recovering from a disaster or emergency. MMD works with local communities to coordinate access to additional landfills and to evaluate staging areas for solid waste, as needed. Requests for emergency disposal authorization generally come from the county emergency management program and are sent to the State Emergency Operations Center, which coordinates with appropriate EGLE staff. For questions about emergency disposal permits, contact the MMD Solid Waste Section at 517-284-6588.

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