USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced the release of a joint Interagency Coordination and Operations (ICO) plan that enhances collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help communities recover from natural disasters and related emergencies.
Specifically, the plan will improve the coordination, communication, and training between the agencies in disaster recovery efforts.
“NRCS and FEMA share a common mission of helping people who are impacted by natural disasters and emergencies, so it makes sense to work together in these situations to provide the best service and assistance to those who have been affected,” said NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton.
“This is a great example of federal agencies working together to integrate our operations and streamline the recovery process for impacted communities,” said FEMA Assistant Administrator, Recovery Directorate, Keith Turi.
In 2018, NRCS and FEMA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provided for more efficient service to those impacted by disasters by increasing training opportunities between the agencies, enhancing communication between agencies at both the field level and headquarters, and establishing a ICO plan outlining coordinated efforts between NRCS and FEMA when responding to disasters and emergencies that involve both agencies.
Following natural disasters, programs like NRCS’ Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) and FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program play crucial roles in recovery.
EWPP helps state, local, and tribal governments relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by natural disasters that impair a watershed. EWPP assistance is also directly available for landowners when a floodplain easement is the preferred alternative. Meanwhile, the PA program helps state, local, tribal, territorial governments and certain private nonprofit organizations respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies by providing financial assistance for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures, and restoring public infrastructure.
Through the plan announced today, NRCS and FEMA will jointly identify opportunities for the agencies to cross-train staff to foster a better understanding of each agency’s authorities and emergency and disaster response capabilities, encourage the sharing of ideas, and build a foundation for cohesive teamwork during response and recovery efforts.