Warm weather is here, and with it comes the yearly threat of hurricane season.
For North Carolinians, it’s not exactly a new phenomenon – hurricanes are a part of life here – but in recent years the storms have grown both more intense and more frequent than past forecasting models were designed for. These stronger, more common storms show no sign of going away any time soon, which is why it is more important than ever for North Carolinians to have a plan in place for them.
For people in agriculture, that plan will include all kinds of specific considerations that other people may never encounter. That is why the NCDA&CS Emergency Programs division recently rolled out a newly designed website, meant to collect information and resources for disaster response in one place for easy access in times of crisis.
The new layout is designed around the three core parts of disaster management, said EP Director John Howard.
“What you see first are sections for ‘Prepare,’ ‘Respond’ and ‘Recover,’ which are the three main parts of our mission statement,” Howard said. “Under each category, you’ll see links to resources and organizations who can help with each step of that process.”
The site also includes information about other aspects of Emergency Programs’ work, including inspecting animal shows through Aedin’s Law.
Preparation is perhaps the most important thing that the average person can do heading into storm season. The new site includes resources that can help anyone get ready for an emergency, while also offering some specific tools for farmers and other people in agriculture.
Sufficed to say, there are a lot of data points to read and links to click when talking about how to prepare for or respond to a major emergency. For farmers, pay particular attention to the new site’s “Farm and Emergency Planning & Preparedness” section. Here you’ll find links to preparedness information from NCDA&CS, NC State Extension and the Extension Disaster Education Network, as well as a template for your own disaster plan that you can fill out and have on hand in time of emergency.
Preparedness is more important than ever. Storms continue to get stronger and more frequent, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters have predicted yet another active season this year.
“They have predicted an above average season, and last year they raised the average. So that’s obviously concerning,” Howard said. “I typically take those predictions with a grain of salt, but I also know that in the last six to eight years we have been hit with more storms than in the previous six to eight. I urge folks to prepare for having a dangerous storm, and then if it doesn’t happen, there’s no great loss.”
While an active hurricane season does not inherently guarantee that a dangerous storm will hit North Carolina, it only takes one to cause major damage. Simple steps like making sure you have water and non-perishable food, flashlights with new batteries, or even a small generator, can go a long way in preventing serious problems. For farmers, make sure to clear debris from drainage ditches so water can run freely. Check power line clearance and trim or remove trees near lines or buildings if necessary, and make sure to go over the condition of any structures on your property. A few extra nails in the roof of a barn could be the small step that saves you from serious damage.
Most importantly for people both on and off the farm: stay informed. Tune in to your local weather channel to stay updated on weather conditions whether a hurricane is brewing or not, and take advantage of resources like those provided by NCDA&CS Emergency Programs to make sure you are ready far in advance.
You can visit the new Emergency Programs website at https://www.ncagr.gov/oep/.