United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today issued the following joint statement on the opening of the Morganza Spillway in Pointe Coupee, Louisiana:
"Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the flooding in Louisiana's Morganza Spillway. While the Army Corps is responsible for levee maintenance and control and the decision to open the Morganza Spillway, FEMA, the USDA and the entire federal family are focused on ensuring the safety and recovery of the people and communities we serve and at the direction of President Obama, we have been working closely with the state of Louisiana for weeks to prepare for this event.
Due to the overwhelming amount of water flowing down the Mississippi, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to open the Morganza Spillway as part of a flood risk management plan designed to minimize damage to property, structures and to protect millions of people from historic flood levels. Even before the decision was made to breach the levee, USDA has been working in concert to coordinate with our federal partners to evaluate how we can provide relief to farmers and others impacted by this natural disaster. FEMA and USDA are ready to support the state so they can help begin the road to recovery as quickly as possible. USDA agencies that provide flood and disaster assistance are offering support to those in need and standing by to assist others.
USDA wants to assure all producers who purchased crop insurance and whose crops have been damaged by the flooding, that you will be eligible for crop insurance indemnities in accordance with the provisions of your crop insurance policy. To all of those producers who are unable to plant, but have purchased crop insurance, you will be eligible for prevented planting payments in accordance with your policy.
In preparation for flooding, under the leadership of Secretary Napolitano, FEMA has already embedded staff, including top officials, in the state's emergency operations center to coordinate closely with our state and local partners and has pre-positioned commodities in strategic locations that can be deployed to assist Louisiana and other states quickly, if needed.
In the past two weeks since historic floods have affected the Mississippi River Basin, USDA and FEMA have been providing updates on the situation and working closely with state and local officials to assist impacted communities and help get people back on their feet. This will continue to be a team effort. Working together, in support of our state partners, we will do everything we can to help mitigate this damage and protect the families, farmland and communities we serve."