AUBURN, Ala.— Now Tropical Storm Harvey is dropping rain across parts of Alabama. It’s important to remember that farms in flood-prone areas, or areas where flooding is anticipated, should have an emergency plan for evacuation in case of a disaster.
Farm disaster plans include planning for safety of family members and farm workers, livestock and emergency response personnel to facilitate recovery efforts. The strategy should also include detailed plans for crops, equipment, machinery, agricultural chemicals, water supplies and food stores for animals.
If flooding is common in your area—or is anticipated—it is important to have a long-term farm disaster plan. Alabama Extension professionals recommend this for operation evaluation and strategizing before a disastrous event occurs.
- Vaccinate your livestock
- Plan for emergency milk pick-up for dairy cows.
- Plan to move grain out of reach of floodwaters.
- Provide riprap on banks of earthen manure storages where flowing water may erode berms.
If there is little or warning of an impending natural disaster, there may not be time for many preparations. Time permitting, heed the following precautions.
- Move machinery, feed, grain, pesticides and herbicides to a higher elevation. The upper level of a two-story barn, if available, makes a good temporary storage facility.
- Open gates so livestock can escape high water. Ensure a good source of food and water.
- If water is rising, drive livestock through water free of obstructions. Grazing animals swim well, but fences and other obstacles can create problems.
- Long swims through calm water are safer than short swims through a swift current. Large animals will often seek shelter in barns.
- Leave building doors open to equalize pressure during flooding and to help prevent buildings from shifting.
- If possible, move motors and portable electric equipment to a dry location.
- Disconnect electric power to all buildings, which may be flooded. If in doubt about disconnecting power, call your utility company.
- Tie down lumber, logs, irrigation pipes, fuel tanks and other loose equipment or material. Secondary containment is another possibility for fuel tanks, as well as for pesticide storage.
- To keep surface water out of a well, use materials such as heavy plastic and duct tape to seal the well cap and top of the well casing.
- Secure loose items such as machinery parts and tools.
An exhaustive list of livestock, property or potentially hazardous substances is essential to farmstead disaster preparation. Livestock may be killed, lost or stolen during emergency situations. Take care to check animal identification tags and list them with animal descriptions.
Maintain a list of machinery and equipment, including make and model numbers. It is also wise to keep an updated list of pesticide, fertilizer, fuel, medicine and other chemical quantities. During a disaster, these chemicals run the risk of washing into streams or contaminating food supplies, placing people and animals at risk.
The Emergency Handbook brings together recommendations from national emergency response agencies and major universities into one easy-to-understand, interactive reference. It also addresses nearly 50 disaster preparation and recovery topics in four broad categories, including: People and Pets, Home and Business, Landscape and Garden, and Farms and Livestock.