Local News

Interim Agriculture Commissioner Advises Farmers To Prepare For Storm

Posted September 16, 2003 10:15 a.m. EDT

— Interim Agriculture Commissioner Britt Cobb has advised farmers, particularly in the Eastern part of the state, to take necessary steps to prepare for potential damage from Hurricane Isabel.

"At this point, we do not know with certainty where Hurricane Isabel will strike," Cobb said. "But there are general emergency preparations every farmer can take in the event of damaging weather. The

Department of Agriculture

is gearing up its emergency response plans in order to ensure that we are able to provide critical services in the event Hurricane Isabel does make landfall."

Farmers have been busy trying to harvest what they can from their fields. But Cobb said they also need to make preparations for their families, equipment and buildings and have backup plans for electricity for their curing barns and other critical farm facilities.

In addition, livestock operations are being encouraged to begin implementing their specific emergency plans, securing backup generators and assessing their on-site feed capabilities.

"The need for generators is always high when a storm strikes," Cobb said. "We encourage farmers to contact local farm suppliers and rental companies in advance to reserve a generator on their own in the event of power outages. There are no guarantees that state-owned generators will be available for farmers and livestock owners."

Farmers are reminded that a properly-installed transfer switch is critical to hooking up a generator in order to protect farm facilities and utility workers. Growers should have a transfer switch installed in the event they need backup power.

Farmers are also encouraged to add the phone number of their county emergency management office to their list of important numbers. County emergency management offices will be coordinating emergency crop and livestock assistance, including requests for generators.

Other general emergency farm measures recommended by Cobb include:

  • Continuing to monitor local weather reports for up-to-the-minute information on the storm,
  • Storing or securing items or equipment that may blow away,
  • Checking generators to be sure they are in good working order,
  • Securing sufficient amount of fuel to operate generators,
  • Turning off the propane supply at tanks,
  • Securing propane tanks in the event of flooding to prevent them from floating away,
  • Moving equipment to the highest, open ground possible away from trees or buildings that could cause damage,
  • Marking animals with an identifier so they can be easily returned to you if lost. Examples are ear tags with name of farm and/or phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coat or clipped initials in the hair,
  • Moving feed to higher ground or to a more accessible place in case of flooding or transportation problems,
  • Coordinating with neighbors beforehand and discuss what resources can be shared. Examples include a backhoe or set of panels.
  • Having a list of important phone numbers ready and easily accessible in order to make calls following a storm. Potential numbers to include are local emergency management office, county extension agent, insurance agent, county Farm Service Agency, and private veterinarian.
  • In addition, pesticide applicators, particularly in Eastern North Carolina should look to secure their pesticide storage areas. Applicators in low-lying areas should do whatever they can to elevate or move pesticides to locations that are less likely to flood.

    The NCDA&CS

    Structural Pest Control Division

    is also advising pest control companies that termite control applications, especially pre-treats of slab structures, should not be performed less than 24 hours before torrential rains. Termiticides need time to bond with the soil before getting wet.

    In the event of a hurricane strike and power outages, inspectors with the NCDA&CS

    Food and Drug Protection Division

    and the

    Veterinary Division's Meat and Poultry Inspection Service

    will inspect food vendors and grocery and retail stores in affected areas to ensure food safety.

    If shelters are set up, the

    Food Distribution Division

    will assist with the transportation of food and supplies to shelters if needed.