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In the Face of Natural Disaster, USDA Answers the Call to Action

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in Farming Food and Nutrition
Oct 04, 2017
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited Texas and saw first hand damage to Cotton fields and Cotton from Hurricane Harvey in Texas on Sept. 21, 2017
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited Texas and saw first hand damage to Cotton fields and Cotton from Hurricane Harvey in Texas on Sept. 21, 2017.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen parts of our country devastated by natural disasters. People in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands experienced devastation that affected every part of their life, including food, housing, and their livelihood. President Trump called on leaders and government officials at all levels to put bureaucracy aside and lend a helping hand to those in need. At USDA, we have done our best to answer that call.

As Hurricane Harvey hit land along the shores of Texas, USDA ramped up efforts to provide assistance before, during, and after this disaster. Just recently, I was given the opportunity to meet with Texas cotton producers hurt by the wreckage to their farms from caused hurt by Hurricane Harvey. Their crops were battered, but Texans don’t give up easily.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey was not the only natural disaster to strike. Hurricane Irma swept decimated countless farms and crop yields. In Georgia, downed pecan trees may set growers as much as back 10 years. To survey the damage, I toured the impacted areas with local leaders to meet with farm owners and discuss how USDA can help them recover.

I made a similar stop in Florida, where Hurricane Irma caused losses of 50 to 70 percent of southern Florida’s citrus. Like in Texas, many were also left without proper access to food and nutrition. When they began reporting shortages of food, USDA made it easier for schools affected by Hurricane Irma to feed students during this time of great need. These sensible and timely flexibilities ensure children receive the assistance needed.

Finally, as Hurricane Maria swept through the Caribbean, causing great damage to Puerto Rico and other islands, USDA again answers the call to help. Before the storm, USDA spread information on how to preserve food. Now, we are now in full recovery mode. USDA Law Enforcement Officers from the Forest Service acted as first responders ensuring the lives and security of victims. Our Forest Service saw teams are on the ground clearing roads and facility access points. USDA Food Packages are in the hands of first responders with the American Red Cross and the National Guard, and are currently being distributed in Puerto Rico (as well as in Florida and Texas), and USDA Foods are being used for congregate feeding in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. As communications come online and travel becomes possible through the hard work of our FEMA partners, USDA agents will be out in the fields with the farmers, ranchers, and landowners assessing damage to their operations and advising what USDA assistance is available to them. USDA will continue to offer all possible aid and assistance.

When it comes to natural disasters, President Trump’s directive is to help people first and deal with paperwork second; and that is exactly what USDA is doing. It is paramount that USDA makes it as easy as possible for our programs to be administered, so no one affected by this disaster goes hungry or loses their livelihood. While we as a nation continue to recover from these recent tragedies, USDA will continue our work providing help to those who need it most.

Find out more about USDA hurricane and other natural disaster recovery resources on the website.

Secretary Perdue speaking with Florida producers
Agriculture Secretary Perdue speaks with Florida producers whose operations were battered by Irma.
Category/Topic: Farming Food and Nutrition

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Comments

Eric Agardy
Oct 05, 2017

I would like my portion of foodstamps to appear on my card please. The patient I am caring for has been showing signs of dementia and the hurricane stress has been too much. The space is supposed to be regulated by HUD. Currently an ex felon whom is clearly a junkie has moved himself in and is using his moms dementia to deepen his habit. Tired of having my stamps go into his pocket. Then I have to pay cash for foods to keep patient going. There should be law that prevents this type exploitation.ea

Steven truitt
Oct 06, 2017

I'm a father of two children I'm on disability in Delaware I get paid $1,202 a month from disability I need help getting a house to fit my family. thank you.

Douglas deon
Oct 07, 2017

Lost all food in fridge and freeze and about 300.00 dollars worth Douglas A Deon

Rachelle Baker
Oct 07, 2017

I am a disabled mother of 4 2 of which are with me now. Recently divorced after 27 years my. X has been out of work so there is no money to cover his obligation. My home did not have electricity lost all food to to the disaster, the hurricane shorted the electricity and the air conditioner and lighting no longer work. Fence down along with minor things. Due to the disaster I've been displaced and am asking for help in any way. I applied for emergency help and Red Cross but was denied. All my medical needs are.back home along with my vehicle that was flooded and now smells of rot and mildew and because my health condition could be fatal as I'm currently doing chemo. Again any help would be greatly appreciated!

Laura Vargo Antol
Oct 07, 2017

Hi I was looking for assistance with my mortgage payment I got laid off in January and I currently and I'm unemployed due to MS symptoms

Shawntray sykes
Oct 08, 2017

I'm trying to apply for the SNap Assistance

Ben Weaver
Oct 10, 2017

@Steven truitt – contact our Delaware offices to see if you might qualify for one of our low income home programs, or possibly one of the USDA funded rental units. Good luck.

Ben Weaver
Oct 10, 2017

@Laura Vargo Antol – unfortunately we don’t offer any mortgage assistance specifically, but if you’re in a USDA-financed mortgage, contact your USDA loan officer for assistance given your situation. Good luck.

Rebecca Thorp
Oct 10, 2017

I lost all ny food which is about 350.00. I also lost 2 weeks worth of pay which is 600.00. I was also taking care of my disable mother along with 3 childrdn and several dogs and cats.

sydney perrera
Oct 10, 2017

hello, earlier in July I lost the house I was renting because my landlords had to sell and only gave me 20 days to find something else. I couldn't find something in that short amount of time, but I came across an "abandoned" trailer it did need some work we were told. so we decided to take it there was nothing else, after taking it we discovered that there was a mold problem in the walls. so all the walls had to come down, and the ceiling as well and they had to be completely replaced and the bathroom floor was caving in. At this point we didn't want it anymore because we weren't told about all of these issues but the woman we spoke to quit her job and now we are stuck with it and no money to fix it. I have a seizer disorder and had to take a leave of absence from work until my medicine is adjusted so that isn't helping either.I am asking for help to fix my trailer to make it a home if anyone could help me I would be really grateful thank you.

Michael lee matthews
Oct 10, 2017

Need food where i lost food during hurricanne

tammy macdonald
Oct 11, 2017

we lost a lot of food due to hurricane irma came threw state of flor 09/10/2017 lost power for 6 days threw my husbands insuline away please if you can help thank you

Ben Weaver
Oct 11, 2017

@tammy macdonald - Please see below information. Thank you for reaching out to us.

  • Food Distribution:  Florida is operating a disaster household distribution program.  Individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Irma are eligible to receive one or more food packages with 10 to 20 food items that can be taken home and prepared as needed. Details about this program are available on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website at http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Food-Nutrition-and-Wellness/HurricaneFoodPackages.  Phone numbers for individual distribution sites are included on the site; the state asks that all participants call before going to the site to ensure food is available.

    If you have a phone, you can find locations by:

    • Texting “Irma” to 898-211; or
    • Dialing 2-1-1
  • SNAP Benefits:  Information about SNAP benefits in Florida, including office closures and other adjustments made to the program, is available on the Florida Department of Children and Families website at www.myflorida.com/accessflorida.  Or you can call 1-866-762-2237; however, please note that because some of the call centers have been closed due to the disaster, it is likely customers will experience longer than usual wait times on the phone until those call are fully operational.
     
  • WIC Benefits:  Information about WIC benefits in Florida is available on the Florida Department of Health website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/wic/index.html or call 1-800-342-3556.
Ben Weaver
Oct 13, 2017

@Michael lee matthews - Please see below information. Thank you for reaching out to us.

For information about general food assistance in the wake of the hurricane, you can call USDA's National Hunger Hotline, which can connect callers with emergency food providers in their community, as well as other social services. The hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY/ 1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE/1-877-842-6273 (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET).

If you moved out of the State of Texas or Florida as a result of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma and you are interested in applying for SNAP, we recommend that you contact the local SNAP office nearest you. To find your local SNAP office, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-application-and-local-office-locators. You may also call your State SNAP Hotline Information Number found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-informationhotline-numbers.

Melissa Sturgis
Oct 14, 2017

I am looking for some type of assistance to help my family with food due to hurricane Irma. I am not getting enough of food stamps and we really need the help with food.

Larry Creque
Oct 16, 2017

How do I apply for food aids??

Ben Weaver
Oct 17, 2017

@Larry Creque - Please see below information. Thank you for reaching out to us.

For information about general food assistance in the wake of the hurricane, you can call USDA's National Hunger Hotline, which can connect callers with emergency food providers in their community, as well as other social services. The hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY/ 1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE/1-877-842-6273 (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET).

If you moved out of the State of Texas or Florida as a result of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma and you are interested in applying for SNAP, we recommend that you contact the local SNAP office nearest you. To find your local SNAP office, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-application-and-local-office-locators. You may also call your State SNAP Hotline Information Number found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-informationhotline-numbers.

Sheryl Trosclair
Oct 17, 2017

I am looking for some immediate help due to being disabled and now homeless after paying bills in rental home I was in. I have a room until tomorrow. Where can I get immediate help or possible help to pay a couple days.

Roselene Edouard
Oct 17, 2017

The food that was in the refrigerator was rotten.

Ben Weaver
Oct 18, 2017

@Sheryl Trosclair - Hi Sheryl, you may qualify for an affordable rental apartment in one of USDA’s Multi-Family Housing communities. To find out where available units are located and how to apply, call your local USDA Rural Development State office.

maw
Oct 18, 2017

im looking for a grant to help me improve my home and pay outstanding electricy bill and taxes ?

Krystal D
Oct 18, 2017

Do to EXTREMELY long lines in Lakeland and responsibilities at home I was unable to get the dsnap benefits. Please help us there a way to do it online. Can you go to the others in another county if you couldn't make,it to the one in your county. Single mother lost work for a week and was hoping for the help.

Ben Weaver
Oct 19, 2017

@Krystal D - While you can complete online pre-registration for the Food for Florida D-SNAP at https://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/access/fff/benefit.shtml, to actually apply for benefits you must visit a Food for Florida site during the dates and times listed on the website here https://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/access/fff/siteLocations.shtml.  You may go to another county to apply (but please note that some counties are prioritizing home county residents if lines become overwhelming).  Online preregistration will reduce your waiting time at the application site. Florida requests that only the head of household should come for an interview to reduce the length of lines and wait. Please know that if you have an illness, disability, or other hardship that prevents you from visiting the application site in person, you may designate an authorized representative to visit the site and provide the necessary information for your household to receive benefits.

bridget garcia
Oct 19, 2017

We were denied or everything and about to lose our electric and what's left of our house be d help

Hector M. Marrero
Oct 22, 2017

Need food

Ben Weaver
Oct 23, 2017

@Hector M. Marrero - Please see below information. Thank you for reaching out to us.

For information about general food assistance in the wake of the hurricane, you can call USDA's National Hunger Hotline, which can connect callers with emergency food providers in their community, as well as other social services. The hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY/ 1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE/1-877-842-6273 (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET).

If you moved out of the State of Texas or Florida as a result of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma and you are interested in applying for SNAP, we recommend that you contact the local SNAP office nearest you. To find your local SNAP office, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-application-and-local-office-locators. You may also call your State SNAP Hotline Information Number found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-informationhotline-numbers.

Lisa
Oct 25, 2017

How do I apply for D-SNAP in Puerto Rico? Is there a link?

Ben Weaver
Oct 25, 2017

@Lisa - thank you for your comment. Information about the Nutrition Assistance Program in Puerto Rico is available by calling the Secretary of the Department of the Family’s emergency numbers: (787) 722-7400 or (787) 724-0680. General Emergency Information is available in Spanish at http://www2.pr.gov/Pages/Huracan.aspx. For information about food assistance more generally in the wake of the hurricane, you can use USDA's National Hunger Hotline, which can connect callers with emergency food providers in their community, as well as other social services.  The hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET).

Mona Percy
Oct 25, 2017

I need food stamps

Ben Weaver
Oct 26, 2017

@Mona Percy - Please see below information. Thank you for reaching out to us.

For information about general food assistance in the wake of the hurricane, you can call USDA's National Hunger Hotline, which can connect callers with emergency food providers in their community, as well as other social services. The hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY/ 1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE/1-877-842-6273 (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET).

If you moved out of the State of Texas or Florida as a result of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma and you are interested in applying for SNAP, we recommend that you contact the local SNAP office nearest you. To find your local SNAP office, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-application-and-local-office-locators. You may also call your State SNAP Hotline Information Number found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-informationhotline-numbers.