The destruction caused by the recent tornado that came through Nash and Edgecombe counties serves as a reminder that farmers and residents should brush up on their emergency readiness plans.

by | Aug 9, 2023

Summary: We are in hurricane season and that means farms and residents need to be sure they have an emergency response plan and be ready to activate it quickly. The destruction caused by the recent tornado that traveled through Nash and Edgecombe counties is a very tangible reminder that emergencies often come with very little warning.


  • North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes, but the recent tornado that came through Nash and Edgecombe counties is a reminder of the need to be prepared for an emergency at any time.
  • Having an emergency plan in place won’t keep an emergency from happening, but it means you, your family and your workers can react quickly and mobilize efforts to protect your family, your farm and livestock and pets.
  • While the July tornado didn’t provide much advance warning, often farmers and the industry gets a heads up of at least a few days with impending tropical storms and hurricanes.
  • On a farm that means:
    – a hurried rush to harvest what is ready in the field,
    – if possible, moving animals to higher ground that is not likely to flood or send livestock to market if ready,
    – checking backup generators to be sure they will work,
    – securing extra feed for animals if access is cut off to the farm.
    – clearing drainage ditches to help any standing water drain more quickly
    – moving equipment out of harm’s way
    – and, the list could go on and on…
  • There’s typically a lot to get done in a small window of time, so preparing and discussing what you need to do in an emergency on a “blue-sky day” makes very good sense.
  • Planning ahead means you will have important documents and phone numbers ready and all members of your team will know their roles and responsibilities.
  • That last part is especially important if you have new team members involved. Having a response plan is also critical when you care for livestock.
  • We are fortunate in North Carolina to have a strong and coordinated Emergency Response Program that pulls together state agencies and resources to assist residents.
  • The department participates and assists with the state-level emergency response efforts, but we also stand up our own incident management team to better assess and help with agricultural needs.
  • We have staff that train and conduct exercises annually involving situations that could happen or have happened.
  • We also work on developing technological tools, maintaining equipment, participating in specialized training and evaluating our capability to respond effectively.
  • Through our training and exercising, our team can work through questions that may come up in a real-world scenario, but without the pressure of an actual event taking place.
  • After every storm-related response, we go back over our efforts to try to better anticipate needs and challenges, so we can better prepare for future events.
  • I am proud we are looked to as a national leader in agricultural emergency response and are often called on to assist other states in times of agricultural crisis.
  • We have links to a lot of emergency preparedness resources you can access online at
  • Listeners can find a farm emergency plan template that includes a lot of helpful information and checklists of emergency supplies to have on hand and a sheet to list important phone numbers.
  • There are links to help you prepare a plan for your pets, too, including what you should pack and have ready to go on short notice. I believe you will find the information very helpful.
  • I truly hope we don’t have any opportunities, or need, to activate our emergency response activities this year, but we stand willing to help residents and our agriculture community if necessary.
  • Please check out the resources we have online and make sure you have a plan in place and that everyone involved in your operation knows what to do.