USDA says funds are available to rebuild infrastructure in South Carolina damaged by Hurricane Florence through the department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Emergency Watershed Protection program. EWP is designed to relieve imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods and other natural occurrences in watershed.

"NRCS is partnering with local sponsors to protect eligible infrastructure that is in jeopardy and continues to pose threats to life and property," said Ann English, state conservationist for NRCS in South Carolina. "Requests need to be submitted by the deadline (Dec. 5) so NRCS can determine site eligibility for assistance.”

Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance, but all EWP projects must be sponsored by a state, tribal county or municipal unit of government.

Examples of common EWP projects include NRCS assistance to local government entities in repairing water control structures, clearing debris-clogged waterways, and stabilizing severely eroded streambanks that threaten homes, business, and utilities. Generally, NRCS will pay between 75 and 90 percent of the restoration costs, and the sponsor is responsible for the remainder, which can include in-kind support. EWP allows sponsors 60 days from the disaster occurrence or 60 days after the site is accessible to request federal assistance.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Hurricane Florence caused 187,000 power outages and 233 road closures. As of Oct. 24, South Carolina Department of Transportation had repaired 193 damage sites, but reported 10 roads and 13 bridges are still closed due to the storm's flood damage. Many of those roads are expected to remain closed for at least 90 more days to allow time for repairs.

Communities may submit requests to help implement critical emergency measures and restore eligible infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, houses and businesses as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Florence and associated flooding. More information on the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, contact your local USDA Service Center or visit the South Carolina NRCS website at www.sc.nrcs.usda.gov. For more information on disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers, visit farmers.gov/recover.

EWP funding is available to help restore infrastructure damaged by recent hurricane activity in throughout the country. Damage assessment is still in progress in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama as they continue efforts to restore power and water and remove debris on major roadways. USDA is also offering assistance through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which can help farmers and ranchers protect land from erosion, support disaster recovery and repair. EQIP can also help mitigate loss from exceptional storm events in the future. Farmers and ranchers seeking financial and technical assistance through EQIP should visit their local NRCS office to sign up.