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Federal Program Helps Public after Hurricanes, Natural Disasters

Dan Florida, USDA-NRCS

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With Tropical Storm Fred affecting areas of Florida, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Florida wants to remind landowners the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) may be able to help if your area suffers damage from this or any other storms during this hurricane season. The program can relieve imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and hurricanes. Aid may include financial and technical assistance to remove debris from streams, protect destabilized stream banks and establish cover on critically eroding lands, repair conservation practices and purchase flood plain easements.

The public and private landowners are eligible for assistance, but must be represented by a project sponsor, such as a city, county, conservation district or a Native American tribe or organization. NRCS provides technical assistance and pays up to 75 percent of the construction, with local sources contributing the remaining portion in the form of cash or in-kind services.

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The process begins when the sponsor requests assistance within 60 days after an event has occurred from a local NRCS office. Their staff will visit the site and determine eligibility based on environmental impacts and economic analysis, then request funding from the NRCS national office. If Congress appropriates funds, the sponsor enters into a cooperative agreement to complete the work.

For more information, contact your local NRCS office.