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News Release

USDA Program to help Maryland recover from Hurricane Sandy and prevent damages from future flooding

Annapolis, MD July 16, 2013 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing up to $124.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easement (EWP-FPE) funding to help prevent damages from significant storm events in Maryland and other states affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Land eligibility requires that flood damage was the result of Hurricane Sandy.  Acceptable evidence includes insurance claims, newspaper or publication clippings, or any other documentation that links flood damage to Hurricane Sandy.

NRCS is accepting applications for EWP-FPE until September 2, 2013. All counties in Maryland, except for Carroll and Montgomery Counties, were declared Disaster Areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) due to damages from Hurricane Sandy.  Land in these counties would be eligible for funding consideration.

Floodplains store water, helping to protect lands downstream from future flood damage. When the health and integrity of the lands deteriorate, so do the environmental, economic and social benefits they provide.

“To help states recover from Hurricane Sandy, NRCS is working with landowners to provide permanent protection for floodplains.  Restoring these ecosystems ensures our lands are resilient to future threats and impacts,” said NRCS Maryland Acting State Conservationist Deena Wheby.

Under this program, NRCS purchases the permanent easements on eligible lands and restores the area to natural conditions. A healthy floodplain enhances fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention and ground water recharge.

The program complements traditional disaster recovery funding and allows NRCS to purchase a permanent easement on lands within floodplains that sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Funds are only available in counties affected by Hurricane Sandy and where a major disaster was declared pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.

Private lands and those owned by local and state governments are eligible if they are located in a floodplain, not subject to tidal influence or action from storm waves, and meet one of the following requirements:

  •          Damaged by flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy;
  •          Would contribute to the restoration of flood storage and flow, provide for control of erosion, or improve the practical management of the floodplain easement; or
  •          Could be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach.

Easement compensation rates and ranking priorities vary by location and depend on where the land is located within the floodplain and whether it’s agricultural or vacant land or land with homes or other structures.

The program easements are permanent in term.  Lands with structures, such as homes, are eligible for enrollment as well as open or agricultural lands.  If a structure is present, NRCS will cost-share the removal or demolition of that structure and enroll the remaining lot in a permanent easement.  In areas where the primary use of the land is residential, a local sponsor is required to purchase the land after NRCS places it into an easement.

Interested landowners should contact their local County USDA Service Center to learn more about the program and submit an application prior to the September 2, 2013 deadline.  More information is also available on the NRCS website at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/farmbill/?&cid=nrcs143_008225 .

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