Getting Back to “Normal” After the Storm
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Dealing with the aftermath of a major hurricane is no easy task. It’s hard to imagine what damage you can expect to find after the flood waters recede, the winds die down, and when you can finally get back to your livestock. It’s nerve-wracking, to say the least. Here are some tips that may help you, especially financially, as you’re cleaning up.
First, if you are a commercial grower, contact your integrator for steps on recovery efforts. Then contact your local Farm Service Agency to see what programs may be available to help with damage on your farm. Also contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to see if they have any environmental programs that may help you.
Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for educational information. Extension agents have been steadily getting information from North Carolina State University that we can pass along to producers to help after a major natural disaster. Cooperative Extension can help with a wide array of questions, from food safety questions to questions about your flooded hay. We also have online resources for each of the 100 counties, as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee (ECBI). Find us online at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/ and then search by county. We also have several websites dedicated to disaster preparedness and recovery. You can visit the NC Disaster Information Center website at https://ncdisaster.ces.ncsu.edu/ as well as the Extension Disaster Education Network website (EDEN) at http://eden.lsu.edu/Pages/default.aspx. These sites have contact information as well as educational information you may find useful in order to prepare for a storm or during recovery.
As for preparing for storms in the future, here are some tips that can help your livestock stay safe: pick up limbs and debris from your pastures and around your home, decide where your animals are the safest after viewing your property and structures, put your hurricane plans in a safe and visible location, have an actual written plan of what to do before an emergency, during, and after, have an evacuation kit and a first-aid kit, decide on livestock food and water requirements, have an emergency barn kit with supplies like fuel, a chainsaw, batteries, etc., and be sure your animals are identifiable. Be sure you have a camera to take pictures of the damage, make sure your emergency contact list is updated, and work with your neighbors to have folks available to check on your farm if you can’t get there.
After the storm, try to keep your animals as calm as possible and allow them to rest or sleep. Carefully check for live wires, fences that may have been damaged, and be aware of fire ants and other dangerous pests. Make sure vaccinations are up to date for your livestock. The information in this paragraph is cited from a Florida Extension publication called ‘Surviving the Storm’ and can be found online at http://www.marioncountyfl.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=4834 for more information.
In summary, there is a lot of help available to farmers after Hurricane Matthew. Be sure to call all the above agencies to ensure you’re not missing any assistance available to you. If you have further questions, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.