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USDA Assisting In Hurricane Relief

As part of federal efforts to provide necessary support to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided $5.3 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program funds to 11 states affected by the storm. EWP – an emergency recovery program – re-sponds to emergencies created by natural disasters by helping people relieve imminent hazards to life and property.

“USDA is deploying resources to help those impacted by this challenging event,” says Vilsack. “This funding will help communities undertake emergency measures to address public safety concerns and begin restoration efforts. This assistance also keeps farmers, ranchers and landowners on their land, helping to keep American agriculture strong and profitable.”

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia each received $480,000 for recovery projects to address public safety and restoration efforts on private, public and tribal lands.

With these new EWP funds on hand, NRCS state offices will be able to move swiftly as sponsors come forward for projects to reduce threats to life or property. All projects undertaken, with the exception of the purchase of floodplain easements, must have a project sponsor. When funding is allocated to a project, NRCS contracts the heavy construction work to local contractors, spurring creation of jobs.

Typical projects funded under EWP include removing debris from waterways, protecting eroded stream banks, reseeding damaged areas, and, in some cases, purchasing floodplain easements on eligible land. NRCS funds up to 75 percent of project costs, with local sponsors paying the remaining 25 percent in either cash or in-kind services. Funding is subject to Congressional approval.

NRCS also has posted online Plants for Atlantic Coastal Restoration, a large collection of guides, fact sheets and other sources of information on re-vegetating shorelines and stabilizing sand dunes after storms.

Where To Find Information

Additional information about assistance programs, safety tips and updates about USDA’s hurricane relief efforts are at www.usda.gov/disaster. Information about the U.S. government’s hurricane response efforts is available at www.ready.gov.
NRCS helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources.

All programs are voluntary and offer effective science-based solutions that can benefit both the landowner and the environment.

For more information on NRCS and its programs and initiatives, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov, follow NRCS on Twitter, read conservation-related stories on the USDA Blog or watch videos on NRCS’s YouTube channel.

USDA contributed information for this article. For more updates, visit the Web site at www.usda.gov.