WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 27, 2014 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will provide up to $99 million in conservation funding to assist Hurricane Sandy victims in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The funding will be used to enroll 671 acres of hurricane-damaged property into permanent floodplain easements, while also making affected communities more resilient to future flooding and storm surges.
The resources will help coastal communities, both human and natural, that are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which came ashore on the northeast coast of the U.S. on October 29, 2012. "More homeowners and communities that are still struggling from Hurricane Sandy will now find relief," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Restoring and protecting floodplain areas will also reduce the potential for future flooding impacts and improve wildlife habitat and long-term environmental stability."
The funds are provided through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP-FPE), which provides long-term protection and restoration of floodplains on privately-owned lands damaged by flooding. This is the second round of floodplain easement application selections, for which NRCS has received and is responding to 273 applications. A previous sign-up put over 400 acres under perpetual easements.
When lands are enrolled into the NRCS floodplain easements program, homes, structures, dikes, or other obstacles are removed, allowing water to move naturally across floodplains when streams and rivers swell beyond their banks. The easements also prohibit any building in these flood-prone areas in the future, which eliminates potential for future flood-related structural damage on these lands.
These investments are part of a 21st century infrastructure that harnesses the benefits of nature to protect communities from harm and supports President Obama's executive direction to rebuild in the aftermath of Sandy in a manner that accounts for current vulnerabilities to extreme weather events and increases community and regional resilience in responding to future impacts.
Restoration of the normal floodplain functions provides numerous benefits, such as increasing floodwater retention, reducing the damage from flood events, improving water quality, reducing erosion, and improving fish and wildlife habitat.