Additional disaster relief for Colorado, 14 other states

Jun 14, 2013
by WLJ

As news of disasters stack up year on year, more efforts are needed and being offered to get states set right. USDA has stepped up to the tune of over $66 million in additional aid to the hardest-hit states.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday, June 10 that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will send additional funds to disaster recovery efforts in hard-hit states. The $66.8 million increase in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program funds will go to 15 different states, with the lion’s share going to Colorado and its rebuilding following the 2012 fire season.

“This funding will help communities implement much-needed recovery projects to address watershed impairments caused by floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters that occurred in 2012 and 2013,” Vilsack said in NRCS’ announcement of the move.

“President Obama and USDA are committed to helping repair and rebuild rural communities so hardworking farmers and ranchers can ensure American agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy.”

In 2012, Colorado saw its worst fire season in recorded history, with over 200,000 acres burned between several fires statewide. The fires also claimed over 600 homes and structures in their wave of destruction. The Rocky Mountain state will receive over $19 million in aid for the ongoing recovery efforts.

Other states which will be benefiting from the increased EWP funds are Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico and Ohio. These EWP funds are in addition to other aid offered by NRCS in response to the Oklahoma tornadoes (about $500,000) and allocations of $5.6 million in recovery money to states affected by Hurricane Sandy.

EWP is designed to help people and conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural occurrences. It has successfully helped many communities recover from previous natural disasters across the country by providing on-site technical and financial assistance. This money helps to implement all requested recovery projects that were in presidentially-declared disaster areas.

The program can also provide funding for purchasing floodplain easements in areas consistently prone to flooding. Permanently protecting floodplains can restore natural flood buffers, conserve fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality while safeguarding lives and property from floods, drought and erosion. — WLJ