– Scientists are predicting fewer hurricanes this season, but Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says that’s no reason to be complacent. He is encouraging farmers and agribusinesses, such as food manufacturers, pesticide dealers and timber owners, to prepare now for hurricane season.
“It only takes one storm to ruin a farmer’s year. We know from past experience that hurricanes can do major damage on the coast, in the mountains and all points in between,” Troxler said. “No county in this state is immune to hurricane damage.”
Troxler says that thinking through your emergency plan now and discussing it with employees can help no matter what type of emergency strikes. “ Employees should know how to react if you should lose power, or are at risk for flooding. Being prepared can be the difference in salvaging a crop or saving livestock,” he said.
Farmers and businesses should review insurance policies now to ensure they 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.
Troxler offers farmers these suggestions to prepare 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.
- Before a hurricane hits, purchase additional 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 preparedness tips, other information, and to download the Farm Emergency Plan Template, go to www.ncagr.gov/disaster.