Several USDA departments and agencies are assessing the needs of victims of Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana and Arkansas. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer says he was impressed by the preparations USDA had in place for the hurricane and the flexibility that will be needed as a series of tropical storms are headed toward the U.S. Atlantic coast.
"You kind of have to move that effort now if we're looking at Hanna that is probably going to hit in Georgia somewhere; maybe around Savannah and start working its way up the East Coast," Schafer says. "So you have Florida to be concerned about, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina."
Schafer says the key to meeting the needs of those areas is the local resources in place and the flexibility of moving assistance to where it is needed.
"With our local folks that are on the ground and leading the effort for the aftermath in crop damage assessments, etcetera," Schafer says. "We just need to get them focused, get them there and try to stay ahead of the storms as they come."
Tropical Storm Hanna is being followed by Tropical Storm Ike and other storms are on the heels of those two that could also hit the East Coast of the United States in the coming days.