Farmers, horse owners and pesticide applicator: prepare now for Hurricane Florence
The National Weather Service has classified Hurricane Florence as a major hurricane that is expected to impact the southeast coast of the United States on Thursday. While the hurricane’s exact track is uncertain at this time, it appears increasingly likely that areas of Virginia may experience significant flooding, high winds, and storm surge.
As a result of this forecast, The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services advises farmers to take the following precautions now to help protect their families, farms and livestock.
- Monitor local weather reports for up-to-the-minute information on the storm
- Prepare your household for the storm by creating an emergency kit with flashlights, batteries, drinking water for humans and pets, medications, emergency numbers, first aid kit, dust masks and a supply of food to last 3 or 4 days.
- Make a communication plan that identifies your evacuation routes to where your family will meet and how everyone would get there should you need to evacuate.
- Charge cell phone batteries and have extra batteries for radios.
- Store or secure items or equipment that may blow away or blow into structures. This includes lawn furniture and ornaments.
- Inspect all barns, outbuildings and other structures for broken or weak components and make repairs before the storm hits.
- Stock up on feed, food and livestock supplies. Be prepared to be self-sustainable for three days.
- Secure livestock and other animals. If necessary, build berms for them to stand on in low-lying areas.
- Stock up on nails, screws, and plywood to board up windows and nail doors and windows shut.
- If your operation uses vent fans, water pumps, milking machines or other critical electrical equipment, purchase a gas-powered generator and plenty of fuel.
- Ensure a source of clean water so livestock won’t have to drink flood water.
- Store fertilizers, pesticides, treated seeds and other such compounds up high and away from floodwaters and animals.
- Do not drive across any flooded roadway, as it only takes six inches of water to move a vehicle and roads may be washed out beneath the floodwaters.
- Mark animals with an identifier so they can be returned if lost. This can include ear tags with name of farm and/or phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coat, or clipped initials in the hair.
- Know your local emergency managers, including the sheriff and animal control officer. They are in charge during a disaster.
- If strong winds knock down trees, make farm lanes and houses accessible to delivery vehicles as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Coordinate with neighbors before the storm to discuss what resources can be shared in the event of power outages or flooding.
- For more emergency preparation tips, please visit www.readyvirginia.gov/.
“I encourage all Virginia farmers to begin taking precautions today to help safeguard their families, livestock and farms as Hurricane Florence approaches. Farms are asset-heavy with expensive buildings, equipment, animals and other tools of the trade, so taking precautions today may save thousands of dollars in property loss,” said Jewel Bronaugh, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “All pet owners should prepare themselves and their pets before the storm hits. This is even more important for owners of horses because of their size and the special equipment needed to transport them if owners decide to evacuate.”
VDACS offers the following tips for effectively preparing horse owners in areas prone to hurricane damage:
- Be sure your horse is current regarding vaccinations for tetanus and the encephalitis viruses (Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus).
- Be sure that your horse has multiple forms of identification.
- Store the record for the microchip number, if present, in an accessible location. VDACS also recommends keeping a second copy of this information with a family member or friend in a distant location where it will be easily accessible.
- Coastal residents should consider evacuating horses a sufficient distance from the coast out of the storm’s path. For a listing of privately operated equine sheltering facilities and other equine resources. please visit, vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/horse-evacuation-resources-florence.pdf.
VDACS also encourages pesticide applicators, particularly those in Eastern Virginia, to secure their pesticide storage areas. Applicators in low-lying areas should attempt to elevate or move pesticides to locations that are less likely to flood. Pest control companies should postpone termiticide pre-treatments for slab structures if torrential rains are predicted in their areas. Termiticides need time to bond with the soil before getting wet.