The Carolina-Virginia region has been relatively fortunate in terms of tropical storms this year, but the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services warns that farmers should remember there is still more than two months remaining in this year's storm season. The storm season officially began June 1 and ends November 30 this year.
It has been a busy season thus far. By September 30 there had been thirteen named storms this year, (if Tropical Storm Alberto, May 20, and Tropical Storm Beryl, May 24, are included – however, both of those storms occurred before the official start of the season). Still, damage from storms has been relatively minor and tropical storm rains have been beneficial for many farmers.
With over two months still to go in the storm season, the Virginia Department of Agriculture is urging farmers to be prepared in the case they are hit by a storm.
If a brewing storm looks like a threat to your farm, VDACS offers up the following short-range preparation suggestions:
Monitor local weather reports for up-to-the-minute information on the storm.
Charge batteries on cell phones and cameras.
Determine check-in points for family members and workers.
Store or secure items or equipment that may blow away or blow into structures, including lawn furniture and ornaments.
Check generators to be sure they are in good working order and purchasing sufficient amounts of fuel to operate them.
Check feed inventory and order extra if needed.
Move poultry and livestock to higher ground if possible and shelter them in securely battened barns, houses or tightly-fenced areas.
Plan for the possibility of evacuation and identify horse facilities in nearby vicinities that are willing to take horses in an emergency. Find out what their requirements are for vaccinations or tests such as the Coggins Test. Have a system for permanently identifying each horse with its name, your name and a phone number.
Turn off the propane supply at tanks and secure tanks in the event of flooding to prevent them from floating away.
Move equipment to the highest, open ground possible, away from trees or buildings.
Pump and store adequate supplies of drinking water for humans and animals in the case of power outages. VDACS recommends a minimum 36-hour reserve.
Top off all gas, propane and other fuel tanks, including the family vehicles.
Mark animals with an identifier so they can be returned to you if lost. This can include ear tags with name of farm and/or phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coat or clipped initials in the hair.
Move feed to higher ground or to a more accessible place in case of flooding or transportation problems.
Check the security of roofing materials, siding and windows and doors in barns and poultry houses to make sure they will not blow off or blow open in strong winds.
Coordinate with neighbors beforehand to discuss what resources can be shared in the event of power outages or flooding.
Make a list of important phone numbers ahead of time in order to make calls following a storm. Potential numbers to include are the local emergency management office, county extension agent, insurance agent, county Farm Service Agency and private veterinarian. For local emergency offices, contact the Virginia Department of Emergency Management ahead of time, or log on to vaemergency.gov.
VDACS officials say being prepared for storms and hurricanes could help farmers limit their losses, but preparations need to be made well before a problem storm hits.
The VDACS tips listed above come from an agency advisory. But in addition to these short-term goals there are additional long-range goals. For more information see the complete VDACS report at www.vdacs.virginia.gov/news/releases-a/082712storms.shtml