Alabama tornado debris removal tops 4.3 million cubic yards

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Feb 1, 2015

Throughout Alabama, the deafening sound of the April tornadoes has been replaced by the rumbling of trucks hauling debris, more than 4.3 million cubic yards of it in the last month.

Recovery officials estimate more than 4.3 million cubic yards have been removed in Alabama so far, and there is a total of 10 million cubic yards of debris, including wet debris from Lake Martin and Neely Henry Lake, to be removed. About 8.4 million cubic yards is on land.

When cities and counties request federal assistance through the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinates their debris removal.

“This is a significant milestone,” said Bobby Moore, recovery field office commander for the Corps. “The efforts of the men and women removing debris have been outstanding. We are seeing real progress.”

FEMA has assigned the Corps a mission to remove 3.7 million cubic yards plus the wet debris. Public works departments and private contractors hired by local jurisdictions will remove the remaining 4.7 million cubic yards on land.

The Corps and its debris-removal management contractor, Phillips & Jordan, have removed more than 2.3 million cubic yards of debris.

While the amount removed to date equals half of the debris on land, recovery officials say removing the rest of the debris will take longer than a month. That’s because removing debris from private property is a more complicated process than picking it up curbside.

Currently, crews either burn or chip vegetative debris. Construction and solid waste material go to state-permitted landfills. Hazardous materials go to state-permitted landfills created for hazardous waste.

Contractors for the Corps will begin mobilizing special equipment for removing wet debris from Lake Martin this week. Debris removal should begin there by the end of the week.

The contractor is expected to move equipment to Neely Henry Lake the week of June 12 and begin debris removal soon after.

For more information on Alabama’s disaster recovery, visit or