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Debris Management


Cleaning up fallen trees, branches, and other debris from public rights-of-way is a common task for town crews after storms.  For larger storms, private companies are sometimes hired to assist with debris cleanup and removal.

The town is usually left to foot this bill, but for storms that receive a federal disaster declaration, communities, public utilities, and state agencies can seek reimbursement for their debris cleanup costs.  The ice storms of December 2013, the flood of June 29-July 1, 2017, and the wind storm of October 29-30, 2017 are examples of events in which municipalities and public utilities received 75% federal reimbursement.

To be eligible for federal Public Assistance funding, applicants must follow federal rules when cleaning up debris.

This page is intended to make things easier on towns by providing the details and links needed to utilize contingency contracts in the event that your community is facing a debris emergency which exceeds your available local and regional resources.  Several Vermont State agencies (VEM, DEC, and BGS) have collaborated to procure contingency contracts which are in place and available for State agencies and individual communities to utilize if needed.

Contract Templates

In the event that a catastrophic event generates an overwhelming amount of debris that exceeds local and state capacity to manage and remove, the State of Vermont, pursuant to the State’s Debris Management Plan, has competitively procured contingency Debris Management and Debris Monitoring contracts from national firms.

In most cases, additional resources can be identified through mutual aid from surrounding communities and/or state agencies.  The contingency contracts will probably only be needed after a catastrophic event that overwhelms many communities. The contingency debris management contract (with a firm called Ceres)  and Change Order 2 (45120 CO2 Ceres Environmental EXECUTED) are HERE. Note that any time federal disaster assistance is available, FEMA requires that contracted debris management must be monitored. When a town hires a local tree removal contractor, monitoring of that work can be done by designating one or more local people to do so, and this can be done with forced account labor.  

But for a debris event so large that it requires contracting with an out-of-state Debris Management contractor, the best practice is to hire a second, independent contractor to monitor the debris management activities of the first contractor.  Accordingly, if a community opts to have a task order performed by CERES ENVIRONMENTAL under the contingency debris management contract, we recommend that they also have a task order under the contingency debris monitoring contract.  The contingency debris monitoring contract (with a firm called TETRA TECH) is here. This contract has been extended to remain in effect through December 31, 2024.

FEMA’s guidelines for debris monitoring are found in the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide:, on pages 41-57.

When the Governor’s Authorized Representative or his/her designee determines that it is appropriate to activate the contingency debris contractors, communities with unmet needs have the opportunity to retain the contractors through defined Task Orders.  To initiate this process, contact the State Emergency Operations Center at 1-800-347-0488. 

When local requests for Task Orders are received, the State Debris Management Coordinator (SDMC), operating out of the State Emergency Operations Center, will arrange for the contingency contractor to deploy a Municipal Operations Manager (MOM) assigned to each community.  If you also sign a Notice to Proceed and Task Order with TETRA TECH for debris monitoring, the SDMC will arrange for TETRA TECH to assign a debris monitor to oversee the scope of work conducted by CERES for your community.

Note that it is not mandatory for towns to use the pre-procured state contingency contracts for debris management and debris monitoring. Your community is free to procure your own debris contracts.  If you opt to do so, however, be sure to adhere to federal procurement requirements under 2 C.F.R. Sections 200.317 through 200.326.  Failure to do so may result in loss of eligibility for federal reimbursement. Assistance with procurement is available at


If your town needs extra help with debris, beyond what your force account labor and local contractors can provide:

Note: if you sign the Mutual Agreements and execute task orders under them, your community will be on the hook to pay the contractors under the terms of the contingency contracts, based on the price lists (CERESTETRA TECH) in the contingency debris management and monitoring contracts.  Even if FEMA provides federal reimbursement for a portion of your costs incurred (typically 75%), your community will still be responsible for a local share.

While monitoring is mandatory for FEMA reimbursement, it is possible to do your own monitoring with force account labor, but only if you have the capacity yourselves to track every truckload, every collection site, and every delivery to a solid waste management facility destination. 

Most frequently asked question: "How and when will we get reimbursed for eligible costs?"

Assuming the event is catastrophic and there is a federal disaster declaration, you will be notified of a mandatory Applicant Briefing in your area.  When you attend the Applicant Briefing, you will be required to fill out a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) form to get registered as a qualified applicant. RPAs must be submitted within 30 days of the federal disaster declaration date.  Federal reimbursement typically takes anywhere from two to twelve months, depending on the scope and severity of the disaster.

Resources for more information

  • Vermont Emergency Management/State Emergency Operations Center – 1-800-347-0488;
  • Ben Rose, VEM Recovery and Mitigation Section Chief – 802 585-4719  (;
  • Kim Canarecci, Public Assistance Officer – 802 585-4209 (;
  • Dennis Fekert, Department of Environmental Conservation, State Debris Management Coordinator, 802-522-0195 (