RALEIGH – Hurricane season officially begins Sunday, with scientists predicting fewer storms than normal. But as Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says, it only takes one storm to ruin a farmer’s year. He is encouraging all farmers and agribusineses, such as food manufacturers, pesticide dealers and timber owners, to review their disaster plans now and to get ready for the season.
“No county in this state is immune to possible damage from a hurricane,” Troxler said. “Preparing for a hurricane is smart, and thinking through your emergency plan can help no matter what type of emergency strikes. A produce farm has very different needs than a livestock operation. Determining what your most pressing needs will be if you should lose power, or are at risk for flooding, can be the difference in salvaging a crop or saving livestock.”
Troxler also reminds farmers and agribusinesses that now is the time to review insurance policies and make sure you have proper coverage, including wind, hail, flood and catastrophic coverage if necessary.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a website, www.ncagr.gov/disaster, with links and resources for different types of agribusinesses to plan and recover from a disaster. A Farm Emergency Plan Template is available on the site to help organize information that is needed after a disaster.
As disasters go, hurricanes are generally the easiest to prepare for because of the advance warning. There are several things farmers can do now to prepare their property for a hurricane:
- Consider purchasing, leasing or negotiating a rental arrangement for a backup generator in advance. If you plan to rent a generator, read the contract carefully, as some rental contracts are only for eight hours use per day.
- Have a transfer switch properly installed so you can use a generator. This is critical for the protection of farm facilities and utility workers.
- Fuel for vehicles and generators, and a hand fuel pump.
- Emergency Preparedness Kit: Fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, a camera that stamps date and time, flashlights, batteries and other items.
- NOAA weather radio and batteries.
- Water and feed for animals.
- Two-way radios.
- Clear debris from drainage ditches so water can run freely.
- Check power line clearance; some of the greatest damage is from downed power lines and long power outages. See if trees need pruning or removing.
- Survey your buildings; do you need to trim or cut down trees near barns or home? Check for damaged trees and consider removal before a storm. Also check the condition of the buildings; a few extra nails or tighter hurricane strapping can limit further damage.
- Clear away all debris that could blow around in high winds.
- Secure any signage.
- Take photos of valuable items and store off site; store all business records above flood level.
For more information, and to download the Farm Emergency Plan Template, go to www.ncagr.gov/disaster.