WASHINGTON — As part of federal efforts to provide necessary support to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, the USDA announced late last week that the 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 — responds 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,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This funding will help communities undertake emergency measures to address public safety concerns and begin restoration efforts.”
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.
Additional information about assistance programs, safety tips and updates about USDA’s hurricane relief efforts are posted at http://www.usda.gov/disaster.