Skip Navigation

NRCS Provides Disaster Assistance After Severe Storm

Oftentimes those familiar with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) think we only work with farmers to conserve natural resources on farm and forest land, but NRCS’s mission goes far beyond that.

As just one example, we are also able to conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, wind­storms, drought and other natural occurrences through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program.

EWP is an emergency recovery program, which responds to emergencies created by natural disasters to implement critical measures needed to address public safety and restoration efforts. It is not necessary for a national emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance

Most recently in Pennsylvania, NRCS has been partnering to help families affected by flooding from a severe storm in October 2016 that brought over eight inches of rain within a 5-hour period to Centre, Lycoming, Sullivan and Bradford Counties.

Property damaged by severe storm in 2016.The intense rainfall prompted the evacuation of homes and was declared a major disaster.

After local NRCS Field Office and Conservation District staff accumulated potential Emergency Watershed Protection Program site information, eligible sites were determined. The eligible sites contained homes that were within 50 feet of a severely damaged streambank.

These streambank repair projects consisted of removing debris and deposition from waterways and floodplains, protecting eroded stream banks with large rock, and reseeding damaged areas.

Through EWP, NRCS provides 75 percent of the construction funds needed to restore those areas damaged by flooding. Local government sponsors, such as townships, municipalities, or conservation districts, request assistance of the program to receive federal funding and then administer the construction or debris removal through locally awarded contracts.  In the case of the most recent flood, the PA Department of Environmental Protection was able to match NRCS’s share. Through DEP and the four local sponsors, assistance was provided to 17 families and their homes at a cost of $542,000.00.

For more information on the services EWP offers, click here, or visit your local USDA Service Center.