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Press Releases

August 4, 2023
Virginia Farmers Should Prepare Now For Peak of Atlantic Hurricane Season
Taking preparedness steps now helps protect farms and livestock as peak hurricane season approaches
Contact: Michael Wallace

The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The powerful winds and flooding rains of hurricanes can be disastrous for agricultural producers. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages farmers to take precautions now to help protect their families, livestock, and farm operations.

Tips to Protect You and Your Family

  • Monitor local weather reports for up-to-the-minute storm information and follow instructions of local and state government officials.
  • Charge all cell phones and other important electronic devices.
  • Create an emergency kit with drinking water and food for humans and pets that will last three to four days, medications, emergency numbers, first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, and dust masks.
  • Make an emergency plan that identifies evacuation routes and meeting destination for your family in the event you need to evacuate.
  • Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs close enough to fall on structures.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Keep alternative power sources, such as a portable generator, outside, at least 20 feet away from the house, and protected from moisture.
  • Document the condition of your home with photos and video prior to the storm for insurance purposes.
  • Have contact information for your local emergency manager, sheriff, and animal control office readily available.
  • 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.
  • If strong winds knock down trees, make farm lanes and houses accessible to delivery vehicles as soon as it is safe to do so.

Livestock Preparedness Tips:

  • Secure livestock and other animals. If necessary, build berms for them to stand on in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding. Fencing may also be removed to allow animals to move to higher ground during floods or lower ground during high winds.
  • Mark animals with an identifier so they can be returned if lost. This includes ear tags with the name of the farm and/or phone numbers, paint markings on hooves or coat, or clipped initials in the hair.
  • Stock up on feed, water and livestock supplies so that you are self-sustainable for at least three days.
  • If your operation uses vent fans, water pumps, milking machines, or other critical electrical equipment, purchase a gas-powered generator and plenty of fuel.
  • Keep multiple forms of identification for all horses and other equines.
  • 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 but where it will be easily accessible.
  • Be sure your horse’s vaccinations for tetanus and the encephalitis viruses (Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus) are current.
  • Coastal residents should consider evacuating horses inland and out of a storm’s path. In addition, horse owners should make plans of how they would acquire any special equipment that may be needed to transport horses prior to an emergency event.
  • Store fertilizers, pesticides, treated seeds and other such products away from floodwaters and animals.
  • Inspect all barns, outbuildings, and other structures for broken or weak components and make repairs before the storm arrives. Stock up on nails, screws and plywood to board up windows and nail doors and windows shut.
  • Store and secure farm equipment or other items that may blow away or become dangerous projectiles.

“Proper planning and taking precautions now could save thousands of dollars in property loss. I strongly encourage all agricultural producers to review these tips and take time now to prepare their farms and agribusinesses for hurricanes and other severe weather events,” said Joseph Guthrie, Commissioner of VDACS. “For more in-depth emergency preparation tips, please visit www.vaemergency.gov/threats/hurricanes.”

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 consider the weather carefully when making any type of outdoor application and always read and follow the pesticide label.

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