October 5, 2011
For Immediate Release
USDA honors six states for disaster response
LOUISVILLE, Ken. – The USDA and Rural Utilities Service honored six states for their response to number natural disasters during the USDA session held at on Oct. 5 at the H2O-XPO.
“We want to show our appreciation with more than just words, we want to show it with plaques,” said RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein before he and John Padalino, Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Rural Development, presented the plaques.
State rural water associations from Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Vermont each received recognition for their response to natural disasters impacting their states through 2011.
“In 2011 we had a record number of weather-related disasters,” explained Jacki Ponti-Lazaruk, Assistant Administrator, Water and Environmental Program, “Through all of them USDA relied on circuit riders and the network of the rural water associations to assess, assist and report to us.”
Those disasters included five separate tornado events, two floods and Hurricane Irene. In each case a great deal of the media attention and emergency response was focused on large cities, while rural water concentrated on small communities.
“The fact is you guys were ready,” Ponti-Lazaruk said. “While everyone else was focusing the attention on those areas, rural water associations were sitting down, sharing lessons learned from prior events, staging equipment, then handling things as they came about.”
Emergency response has been a focus of the National Rural Water Association and it's state affiliates since Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Several states displayed trailers they use for emergency response and disaster relief in the H2O-XPO exhibit hall.
The full audio of the USDA session, including the awards presentation is available an NRWA Podcast here.