Rural Development helping recovery from flooding

Published 9:32 pm Saturday, May 28, 2011

The federal role in helping Mississippians cope with double natural disasters major tornado damage from April storms and massive flooding along the Mississippi River continues expanding as agencies join forces and the probability of special federal appropriations appears to be increasing.

Most people know about FEMA the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and MEMA, its state partner but another, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s division called Rural Development, also plays a major role.

USDA Rural Development in a normal year invests about $500 million in Mississippi. State Rural Development Director Trina George said the regular program, “rural home loans (the old Farmers Home program) and home repair loans; rural water and wastewater loans and grants; programs to help rural towns and cities build or buy things that benefit the community as a whole, such as fire truck or police cars, hospitals, day care or senior citizens centers, etc.; multi-family housing apartment complexes…” and many other applications are adapted for emergency needs.

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Loan repayments, for example, can be suspended while borrowers assess damage and measure losses, and housing owned by USDA is made available as temporary emergency residences. …

The federal government, often criticized in a political context by many Mississippians, is indispensable for our state after its numerous natural disasters.