Forest Service commits to help with post-flood recovery

WEST MISSISSIPPI — The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will be among the federal agencies ready to help address flood cleanup and recovery needs in Mississippi. That is the word Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) says he has received from the agency.

Cochran addressed the historic flooding situation in Mississippi during a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing last Thursday regarding the FY2012 budget request for the U.S. Forest Service.

“We’re seeing huge damage done to homes, businesses and forests because of rivers and streams flooding in Mississippi. In our national forests and adjacent lands there are homes, farms and small businesses that are being affected by this terrible national disaster,” said Cochran.

“I appreciate the U.S. Forest Service for being among those agencies that are prepared to act quickly when the time is right to provide recovery assistance.”

At a May 19 hearing, Cochran asked USFS chief Tom Tidwell to explain his agency’s pre-flood activities and expectations for addressing damage to national forests in Mississippi.

Tidwell said the Forest Service has been focused on public safety in flood-prone areas, including ensuring that the public is not at risk in camping and hiking areas.  He added that the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) would begin assessing damages as the floodwaters recede.

“We will be working together, not only help to address the issues on the national forests, but also with the adjoining private land if there are things we can do, especially with the NRCS programs, to assist those folks,” Tidwell told Cochran.

“As soon as the water starts to recede, we will be in there to assess the damage. And then also to be there to see what we need to do to maybe shift some of our planned program of work for this year to be able to deal with the aftermath. It’s our experience that there will be a lot of downed trees. That will be one thing we will need to be dealing with to be able to get roads opened up, etc. And then also to take advantage of that timber that is down and also to be able to move quickly to remove it so that we don’t create another insect and disease infestation that often occurs following a situation like this.”

Source: Sen. Thad Cochran

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