The spring of 2011 has already made its mark in terms of bad weather. Among other things, this year will be remembered for the unusually large number of tornadoes spawned.
The US Department of Agriculture announced on April 29 that it would provide $6 million in disaster recovery aid to 10 states. The states are North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The aid comes through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program for disaster recovery projects. Considering the vast devastation suffered by these states, this should be seen as a first step in getting aid out to those storm victims who need it.
"Our thoughts are with the families and communities across many parts of the country that have been affected by this severe weather," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "USDA personnel in our state and local offices are coordinating with their state and local government counterparts in order to provide much-needed assistance as quickly as possible to communities that have been hard hit by this string of terrible tragedies."
Dozens of tornadoes hit the southern and western states on April 16. North Carolina was the hardest hit in this wave of storms, with at least two dozen tornadoes spinning across the Tar Heel State and additional funnels coming down in Virginia and South Carolina. Dozens of people were killed across the country. Twenty-four residents were killed in North Carolina alone. Two additional citizens were killed in Virginia during the April 16 storms.
But, unfortunately, that turned out to be just the beginning. Twelve days later more of the twisting, spinning bullets tore up large swaths of Alabama, Mississippi, and a number of other states, including Virginia. At last report over 300 people were killed in this second wave of tornado events, including eight more victims in Virginia.
In an April 29 press release the USDA said that state and field personnel with Natural Resources Conservation Service were surveying damaged areas and "working with local partners to identify the full scope of the damage and prepare disaster recovery projects."
"NRCS will evaluate the need on a continuous basis for additional assistance to the impacted communities," the press release said.
In addition, USDA's Farm Service Agency Acting Administrator Val Dolcini noted in an April 28 press release that FSA programs may be available to assist with recovery from flooding, wildfires and tornadoes.
"Severe weather this spring is making things very difficult for many ranchers and farmers. Whether it's wildfires in the Southwest, flooding or tornados in the Midwest, Plains, and Southeast, learning about our FSA disaster programs is an important first step for producers in the recovery process," said Dolcini.
Dolcini noted FSA administers a number of programs to help recovery from disaster and livestock death. These programs include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program, the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.
"We encourage all who have suffered a disaster due to the recent severe weather conditions to read the fact sheets and visit their local FSA county office so they get a quick start in the recovery process," added Dolcini.
Fact sheets for all these programs can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov.
More information about EWP is available on www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ewp/.