Prepare your farm for weather disasters
- Long-Range Preparations
- Short-Range Preparations
- After the Storm
- Assistance Links
Before there's a hurricane or snow storm bearing down on your farm, take time to walk through your emergency plan. Use the Farm Emergency Plan Template to help you organize your phone numbers and other considerations. This plan was created by the NCDA&CS Emergency Programs Division and the N.C. Agromedicine Institute.
Also determine your farm's long-range needs:
- Generator: Consider purchasing, leasing, or negotiating a rental arrangement for a back-up generator in advance. Many farmers hook the greenhouse to a generator to keep the layers of plastic inflated and possibly save the greenhouse from damage. If tobacco barns are without power for long periods of time, harvested crops can be lost. Consider generator use for your hog operations. If you plan to rent a generator, read the contract carefully, as some rental contracts are only for 8 hours use per day. Decide how much risk you can afford to take. Will the generator cost more to rent than own?
- Fuel for the generators and vehicles, and a hand fuel pump. Also, have a transfer switch properly installed so you can use a generator. This is critical for the protection of farm facilities and utility workers.
- Emergency Preparedness Kit: Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, a camera that stamps date and time, flashlights, batteries and other items. For a complete list of items, check out the N.C. Division of Emergency Management's emergency preparedness site.
- NOAA weather radio and batteries
- Water and feed
- Clear debris from drainage ditches so water can run freely. Run rows for optimum drainage without excessive erosion.
- Check power line clearance; some of the greatest hurricane damage is from downed power lines and long power outages. See if trees need pruning or removing.
- Survey your buildings—do you need to trim or cut down trees too near your barns or home? Check for old, damaged trees and consider removal before a storm. Also check the condition of the buildings; a few extra nails or tighter hurricane strapping can limit further damage.
- Clear away all debris that could blow in high winds.
- Secure any signage.
- Have photos of valuable items stored off site; store all business records above flood level, at least two feet off the floor.
Reviewing Your Business
- Review your insurance policies. Be sure you have adequate coverage for homeowners, vehicles, farm buildings and structures, crops and flood. Learn the different types of wind, hail, and catastrophic insurance coverages. Find out if your policy covers wind set up charges. Have all agents' contact information ready.
- Review your debt level. Do you have unpaid debts that would go unpaid if you lost 50 percent of your crop in one year?
- Review your finances. Do you have a cash reserve you could use to replace a loss of income?
- Develop an emergency plan for your family and your crew. Be sure everyone knows where to meet, and preparation and recovery duties are prioritized and assigned.
When bad weather is imminent, be prepared using these precautions:
Considerations for tobacco farms
Tune in to local radio weather reports.
Designate crews to begin preparations for the storm--after securing their own homes.
Have all phone numbers ready to call for help after the storm. This may include the county extension agent, insurance agents, county Farm Service Agency and private veterinarian.
- Charge all electronic equipment, such as cell phones, tablets and laptop computers in case electricity goes out.
Store items inside that may blow away.
Turn off propane and natural gas.
Shut off unnecessary electric power to avoid surges.
- Move pesticides and fertilizers to higher ground.
Move your equipment into the middle of a large open field or pasture. Keeping equipment away from buildings and trees that may blow over can prevent loss. Tie down any lightweight equipment. Don't park equipment in areas that may flood. Have fuel and batteries ready.
- Make sure you know where local shelters are, in case you, your family and workers need to evacuate. Click here for a list of items to include in your evacuation kit.
- Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification.
- Ensure that poultry have access to high areas in which to perch, if they are in a flood-prone area, as well as to food and clean water.
If you have an emergency generator, have it fueled and ready to go.
If you don't have back-up power, watch the weather carefully. If a large, damaging hurricane is imminent, turn the heat off in the barns and run fans to remove as much heat as possible. If the power goes off before the barns are cool, open all doors and vents as soon as possible to allow for additional cooling. Tobacco in cooled barns fares better after long periods without power.
If tobacco is still in the fields when a hurricane or heavy rains are predicted, top everything as quickly as possible with mechanical toppers or hand labor. Spray sucker control if you have time before the rain starts. Tobacco that has been topped does not blow over as easily.
After a storm hits and it's safe to go outside, follow these precautions:
- Activate your emergency plan.
- Wear sturdy shoes or boots and gloves to protect yourself during cleanup.
- Use equipment carefully. Review OSHA Chain Saw Safety guidelines
- Take Inventory of the farm. Take detailed notes and photos for insurance purposes. (Consider downloading an app to your smartphone, such as the NDSU Disaster Recovery Log, to help with the inventory.) Report losses to your insurance agent as soon as possible.
- Check buildings and fences for damage from downed trees or power lines. Be extremely careful around downed power lines.
- Contact your local FSA office and Cooperative Extension agent.
- In cases of high mortality, consult Animal Burial Guidelines before disposal.
What assistance is available to you after the storm?
If the Governor declares your county a disaster area, help is often available through your local Emergency Management office.
Local extension agents can also relay the request for emergency assistance to Emergency Management officials who will determine if action is warranted. Give your agent all means of contacting you -- phone, fax, home, shop, mobile, pager and e-mail addresses -- so you can be contacted at any hour, day or night.
Information also is available on the NCDA&CS agricultural disaster hotline at 1-866-506-6222.
Financial Assistance & Insurance