WASHINGTON -- Federal assistance for homeowners, institutions and even tree nurseries that suffered damage from Hurricane Irene is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA is deploying personnel and resources to assist the efforts by federal, state and local authorities in response to the ing hurricane that wreaked havoc along the eastern seaboard this past weekend.

USDA Hurricane Irene relief programs include:

Housing Assistance – Residents affected by the disaster can immediately apply for funding assistance under Rural single family housing loan and grant programs. Funds are available for housing repair, rehabilitation and home purchases. For home financing, USDA will assist with expediting lender approval and approval for access to the Guaranteed Underwriting Services; and offer streamlined loan processing.

Community Assistance - Rural communities in Presidentially declared disaster areas may be eligible for funding through Rural Community Facilities programs. Facilities eligible for funding include schools, libraries, childcare centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation.

Tree Assistance- This FSA program is for partial reimbursement to orchardists and nursery tree growers for replanting, salvage, pruning, debris removal and land preparation if losses due to natural disasters exceed 15 percent and

Additional information about all USDA assistance programs, safety tips and updates about USDA's hurricane relief efforts are posted on the Web at www.usda.gov/disaster.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.