Hurricanes are always are threat to Florida each fall. Most Floridians have some experience with hurricanes, but very few of us are truly prepared for a direct hit by a really strong storm. Livestock producers have learned some hard lessons in recent years from Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, Wilma, Katrina, Ike, and most recently, Matthew. These storms can be huge disturbances in our operations. It’s hard to anticipate all the problems a storm could bring, but having a plan in place can reduce the stress during and after the storm. Below are the “Top Ten” things to consider to get your livestock ready before a hurricane is howling at your door.
- Obtain hay, feed and health care supplies for 1-2 weeks. Feed stores may not be open after the storm.
- Move animals to open fields; that is safer for both the animals and your equipment. Be considerate of your pasture choice. A low lying pasture may have standing water after a storm.
- A portable generator should be on hand and may be necessary to pump water if power is out.
- Animals should have proper ID in case of displacement. Halters, collars and even luggage tags can be used in a pinch. If nothing else, spray paint your name and phone number on their sides.
- Clear areas of potential debris, such as rotten limbs, from perimeter fence lines.
- Have written emergency plans in place before the storm. They should include contact information for your local State Agricultural Response Team Leader (Extension Agent), Sheriff, Fire and Rescue, Veterinarian, Feed Mill or Feed Supplier, Health Department, Utilities, and Waste Management.
- Have a satellite phone or access to one in case power and towers are down.
- Strap down equipment such as feeders, trailers, irrigation pivots, etc. as they can cause harm to other objects or animals or sustain damage to itself.
- After the storm: document damage and repair expenses. Contact insurance with a damage report, and contact your local Farm Service Agency within 15 days to receive federal disaster aid.
- Have equipment serviced and available for clean up after the storm.
- Hunker Down!
By considering these tips and taking a proactive approach to hurricane planning there is a greater chance that animals and their owners will survive the storm.