The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is taking part in a joint Interagency Coordination and Operations (ICO) plan that enhances collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help communities recover from natural disasters and related emergencies. The plan is designed to improve the coordination, communication, and training between the agencies in disaster recovery efforts.
In 2018, NRCS and FEMA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provided for more efficient service to those impacted by disasters by increasing training opportunities between the agencies, enhancing communication between agencies at both the field level and headquarters, and establishing a ICO plan outlining coordinated efforts between NRCS and FEMA when responding to disasters and emergencies that involve both agencies.
Following natural disasters, programs like NRCS’ Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) and FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program play crucial roles in recovery.
EWPP helps state, local, and tribal governments relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by natural disasters that impair a watershed. It is also directly available for landowners when a floodplain easement is the preferred alternative. The PA program helps state, local, tribal, territorial governments and certain private nonprofit organizations respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies by providing financial assistance for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures, and restoring public infrastructure.