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Commissioner Miller, Sen. Hall Survey Damage, Offer Assistance to Tornado Victims in Van, Texas (5/18/2015)

AUSTIN - Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today traveled to Van, Texas, for a land and aerial tour of the damage caused by last week’s deadly tornado. State Sen. Bob Hall joined Commissioner Miller on the trip. Van is part of the district Sen. Hall represents. The pair met with residents and local leaders to determine how the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) can best assist the people of Van in their recovery efforts.

“It is unbelievable to see the damage Mother Nature caused in this small Texas community,” Commissioner Miller said. “Yet right next to the devastation, I see the spirit of Texas and its people shining bright. Neighbors are helping neighbors, and I’m glad to be able to offer assistance from the state to help our friends in need. The community of Van has come together to help each other rebuild. Texans are strong people, and I know the folks who have been devastated by this natural disaster will come back stronger than ever.”

TDA works to assist rural communities during crisis situations through various programs and grants like the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). Funded through the Texas Community Development Block Grant program, DRF provides grant funds to communities to help alleviate the effects of natural disasters through debris removal, infrastructure repairs and improvements.

TDA’s Office of Rural Affairs is working with officials from Van to provide immediate assistance to those in need. Additionally, the State of Texas Agriculture Relief (STAR) Fund is available to assist farmers and ranchers with agricultural disaster relief efforts including rebuilding fences and restoring operations. STAR Funds are available in areas where a state of disaster declaration has been issued.

“It is wonderful to see the immediate response of a large number of volunteers from all over Senate District 2 who have been helping the people of Van,” Sen. Hall said. “It does our heart good knowing that Texans come together in times of great distress and need, setting aside their plans to bring aid and relief to the city of Van, Van Zandt County and surrounding areas. Understanding the needs for rapid response and recovery, we are working closely with Gov. Abbott, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Department of Agriculture on the district’s immediate and future needs. My prayers are with Van and all those affected by the tornadoes."

If you or someone you know has been affected by a disaster, you can apply for assistance through the STAR Fund by contacting TDA’s Grants Office at Should you wish to make a donation to the STAR Fund to help Texans in need, visit TDA’s website at   

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