The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $150 million in grants to rural communities affected by natural disasters, including those in Hidalgo County.

In a new release, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced the grants may be used for relief in areas affected by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding.

“I thank the Administration and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this aid available for our rural communities who were affected by devastating flooding in the recent past,” Gonzalez said. “I encourage those in Hidalgo County who were affected by these natural disasters to take full advantage of these resources.”

According to the release, the $150 million is included in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, which was passed with bipartisan support from both chambers of Congress.

In order to be eligible for the grant, applicants for relief must be in areas affected by natural disasters where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided a notice declaring a major disaster declaration and assigned a FEMA disaster recovery number.

Designated communities are available here, with more to be added in the future.

USDA state offices will accept grant applications on an ongoing basis until funds are exhausted. Grant assistance will be provided on a graduated scale, the release read, which went on to state that smaller communities with the lowest median household income are eligible for a higher proportion of grant funds.