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Extension Disaster Education Network Provides Crucial Information to Hurricane Victims

January 4, 2006

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, millions of residents were in need of help. With the help of the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), officials in Mississippi and Louisiana were able to provide hurricane victims with timely information. EDEN is a computer-based resource of emergency disaster information supplied by land-grant universities across the country.

“We provided technical assistance for a great many of the questions that were raised,” said Tom Ball, Mississippi State University (MSU). “ EDEN provided material that could certainly benefit anyone caught in that situation.”

Since most of Mississippi was without electricity, MSU transferred EDEN information to print and, with the help of the National Guard, was able to distribute thousands of pamphlets about getting help, clean-up issues, financial matters and dealing with the stress of disaster.

EDEN is more than an information source. It allows Extension professionals to network rapidly and help those most in need – a fact one Louisiana farmer can testify to.

After the tidal surge destroyed all the pasture grass in the area, Louisiana farmer Eric Broussard, along with most other farmers, was unable to feed his cattle. Through EDEN, Louisiana State University Extension staff contacted extension experts in other states and quickly secured donated hay. Within days, truckloads of feed and hay arrived from as far away as Oregon and Kentucky.

“It’s really amazing that people that don’t even know us – and we’ll never get a chance to thank these people – that they sent this down to us,” Broussard said.

EDEN is a collaborative multistate effort by extension services across the country to improve the delivery of services to citizens affected by disasters. CSREES leads and funds this effort.

To view the companion video news release on EDEN, visit http://www.usda.gov/agency/oc/bmtc/vidnews.htm and scroll to “Extension Disaster Education Network.”