Marine debris after Japanese tsunami.

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. High winds, storm surges, and heavy rains drag household products and hazardous waste, construction debris into the surrounding waters. Natural disasters can also create abandoned and derelict vessels. This debris can be a hazard to navigation, damage habitat, and pose pollution threats. To mitigate these impacts, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is facilitating response planning efforts in coastal states.

Marine Debris Emergency Response Guides

Through a highly collaborative process with local, state, and federal agencies, response guidance documents are being developed, aimed at improving preparedness and facilitating a coordinated, well-managed, and immediate response to acute waterway debris incidents. These efforts work to outline existing response structures at the local, state, and federal levels, capturing all relevant responsibilities and existing procedures into one guidance document for easy reference. The process first includes the development of the guidance document, followed by drills to test response effectiveness, and finally, supporting the integration of this information into other existing plans.

GOES East image of Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29, 2012.
In 2012, Sandy inflicted severe damage to communities and coastal resources in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, leaving a swath of destruction and large amounts of marine debris.
Soccer ball
NOAA responds to marine debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan with federal, state, and local partners.
Debris from Hurricane Katrina
NOAA led efforts to map and survey marine debris following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
A sunken vessel and floating lumber are a result of Hurricane Michael.

The 2018 hurricane and typhoon seasons inflicted severe damage to communities and coastal resources across North Carolina, Florida, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Boats stranded in mangroves.

The 2017 hurricanes season inflicted severe damage to communities and coastal resources over large areas of the Caribbean, Southeast and Texas, leaving large amounts of debris in the coastal zones of the affected states and territories.