Marine debris after Japanese tsunami.
Debris from the tsunami in Japan floats off the Sendai coast. Credit: US Navy

Emergency Response

Marine debris is an everyday problem, but natural disasters have the potential to make it worse. Hurricanes and tropical storms, tsunamis, floods, and landslides that impact U.S. coasts can be an overwhelming source of marine debris because high winds, storm surges, and heavy rains drag household products, lawn furniture, and even entire homes into the surrounding waters. In some cases, this debris ends up in shallow coastal waters, which could threaten navigation, natural resources, or human safety.

MAY 28, 2015 -- The State of Alabama now has a plan that will help state and local officials, along with federal partners, respond to acute waterway debris releases from hurricanes and other natural disasters or man-made incidents.

During the 2012 hurricane season, Sandy inflicted severe damage to communities and coastal resources over large areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, leaving a swath of destruction and large amounts of debris in the waters and marshes of affected states.

Debris from Hurricane Katrina

NOAA led efforts to map and survey marine debris following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Soccer ball

NOAA is responding to marine debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan with federal, state, and local partners.