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September 13, 2004   Email to Friend 

HURRICANE TIPS FOR FARMERS
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
September 13, 2004

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Alabama farmers are bracing for potential high winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Ivan that could wipe out what appears to be a very good crop year and could wreak havoc with livestock and poultry operations.

Forecasters think Ivan may lose some of its punch before reaching the coast, but they still believe it will be a major hurricane at landfall. The Alabama Farmers Federation has compiled a list of recommendations for farmers as they prepare for Hurricane Ivan.

General Farm Precautions

Farm equipment should be stored in several locations in anticipation of limited road access to certain areas.

Coordinate an emergency action plan with workers in advance.

Make sure chainsaws are in working order, and that plenty of gas and oil are available for extensive use. Always use extreme caution when operating these machines. Many hurricane-related injuries occur as a result of unsafe operation of power equipment following the storm.

Generators should be filled with fuel and tested. Incoming power sources should be disconnected prior to switching to generator power. Be prepared to turn off gas supply lines to prevent fire.

Be sure drainage ditches are clean around barns or animal holding facilities in anticipation of heavy rainfall.

Move expensive equipment out of sheds and into open areas to prevent damage to them and reduce losses. You may need a tractor with a front end loader for cleanup.

Secure any crop protection products (chemicals, such as cotton defoliants, peanut fungicides, insecticides, etc) as much as possible.

Additional supplies to keep on hand include plastic tarps, fencing supplies and portable panels for livestock.

Keep emergency numbers for the following:

State Veterinarian - 334-240-7255

Alabama Department of Environmental Management - 334 271-7700

Alabama Emergency Management Agency - 205-280-2200

Livestock and Dairy

Move livestock from flood-prone areas to higher ground. If you don't have higher ground available contact a neighbor or animal health official (State Vet's office, 334-240-7255) for possible shelter space

Make sure fences are in good repair. Remove storm-damaged or diseased trees that are near or on existing fence lines.

Have extra fencing supplies on hand to repair fences once storm has passed. This includes wire, posts, staples, nails, insulators, wire stretchers, hammers, post-hole diggers and post drivers. Also make sure that chainsaws are in working order, and that you have plenty of gas and oil plus extra chain and lube for extensive use. Always use extreme caution when operating these machines. Most hurricane-related injuries occur as a result of unsafe operation of power equipment following the storm.

Give livestock plenty of room to roam within your fence lines. This will give them an opportunity to avoid flying objects or falling trees. Move them from pastures that have lots of woodland to more open pastures. This will help to prevent losses from frequent lightning strikes and falling trees and limbs.

If at all possible, have extra water on hand in the event of power failure. If you have portable water tanks make sure that they are full of fresh potable water, and store these portable tanks where they are most likely to escape damage in the storm so that they are readily available if and when needed.

If you must place livestock in a shelter, make sure that the shelter is able to withstand long periods of high winds and heavy rainfall and hail. Secure latches on feed bins to minimize moisture in feeds.

Any livestock that is nearing parturition (calving, kidding, lambing, etc..) should be moved to the most accessible pastures or shelters so they can be checked as easily and often as possible.

Make sure that livestock are not near power lines that could be damaged or blown down in the event of a hurricane. Livestock can be electrocuted just as easily as humans.

Have over-the-counter livestock wound dressings and medications readily available in the event of injury. Eye injuries can be the most common injuries to livestock in high winds because of sand and other small flying objects.

Once the storm has passed and it is safe to go outside, immediately check livestock, fences, barns, water and other structures.

If you have portable livestock panels make sure that you know where they are located and that they are easily accessible in the event that they are needed to temporarily patch fences or corral livestock.

In the event of extensive fence damage you might want to contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office to inquire about government assistance with rebuilding fences.

Make sure you have ample bracing on hay barns and rafters and plates have storm straps attached. Have adequate construction material on hand, such as tin, wood, nails, siding, plastic, etc... in order to repair damaged buildings. Secure latches on feed bins to minimize moisture in feeds.

Have all emergency related (service, supplies, friends, family) numbers on one page and make several copies. Have quick access to the phone numbers you will need for catastrophic losses for building clean up, proper dead animal disposal and insurance claims. Be sure to coordinate where necessary with your company representative.

Have quick access to the phone numbers you will need for catastrophic losses for building clean up, proper dead animal disposal and insurance claims. Be sure to coordinate where necessary with your company representative.

Have adequate construction material on hand, such as tin, wood, nails, siding, plastic, etc. in order to repair damaged buildings.

Dairy and swine producers should also start and test generators to make sure they are in full working order. Have extra supply of fuel and replacement parts on hand.

Have extra milking supplies on hand.

Immediately following storm check and if possible clear roads for milk pickup and service personnel.

Keep in contact with milk haulers to coordinate milk pickups.

Liquid Waste Storage and/or Treatment Systems

For liquid waste handling systems, check liquid levels in all structures to make sure there is sufficient capacity to contain anticipated rainfall from the storm. Call your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or other Qualified Credentialed Professional as soon as possible for technical assistance with developing and/or implementing an Emergency Action Plan as needed.

In a situation where a discharge from the liquid waste storage structure has the potential to occur, it is better to begin land application prior to the storm and to land apply in raining conditions if necessary than to a have discharge. Contact the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) prior to land applying in the rain if possible, but within 24-hours of commencing land application. Keep detailed records of the time, waste amount applied, locations, etc. If there is a discharge, contact ADEM immediately. During office hours, ADEM can be reached at (334) 394-4311. After hours, contact the Emergency Management Agency at (800) 843-0699 and ask for a representative from ADEM. In all matters prior to and during the event, document all actions and events, including weather conditions. After the storm, work with NRCS or your Qualified Credentialed Professional to ensure compliance and resume normal operations.

Row Crops

Unfortunately, most crop insurance activity has to occur after the fact when losses can be assessed. However, farmers may experience an adjuster shortage, since many of the adjusters have been sent to Florida to deal with Frances-related claims; other outlying non-storm affected states may send adjusters if and when the need arises.

Secure cotton module tarps if the modules can't be taken to the gin.

Poultry

Be sure generators are in good working order for alternative power supply.

Be prepared to turn off main gas supply lines to prevent fire.

Be sure feed bins are at sufficient levels to maintain birds for several days. Secure latches on feed bins to minimize moisture in feeds.

Be sure drainage ditches are clean and open around poultry houses and dry stack storage facilities in anticipation of heavy rainfall. Heavy rains could flood houses and/or cause excessive runoff from poultry waste facilities.

Have adequate poultry house construction material on hand, such as tin, wood, nails, siding, plastic, curtains, etc. in order to repair damaged houses.

Move expensive equipment out of sheds into open areas to prevent damage to them and reduce your losses. You may need a tractor with a front in loader for cleanup.

Remove weakened or damaged trees close to facilities prior to the storm. Be sure chainsaws are in good working order and you have gas and oil available.

Have quick access to the phone numbers you will need for catastrophic losses for building clean up, proper dead bird disposal and insurance claims. Be sure to coordinate where necessary with your company representative.

Secure latches on feed bins to minimize moisture in feeds.

Catfish

In anticipation of heavy rains open valves and drop water levels in ponds to prevent dam failure or loss of fish.

Prepare all emergency aeration equipment for extended use. Check gas and oil in tractors and generators where appropriate.

Place equipment in locations to lessen damage by fallen trees or high water.

Secure and clean up around shop area to minimize losses and to have access to needed items.

Secure latches to feed bins to minimize moisture in feed. Be sure adequate feed is on hand.

Be especially careful for downed power lines in and around water.

Spread out emergency aeration equipment on the farm in anticipation of limited road access to certain areas.

Coordinate emergency action plan with workers in advance.

Horticultural Crops

Secure and repair loose ends and tears in polyethylene cover on greenhouses. Consider removing cover on greenhouses that contain woody plants that would better be able to withstand high winds compared to plants such as herbaceous annuals and perennials.

Secure loose items such as empty pots and tools.

Be sure you have a current inventory of plants and crops.

Pruning of fruit trees may decrease the amount of damage heavy winds can cause.

Clear any potential obstructions and mow orchard ground cover to make access into production areas and cleanup as easy as possible following the storm.


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