By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
As the remnants of Hurricane Isaac pass over the Gulf coast and head east, and with nearly 10 more named storms so far, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is advising farmers to get ready for possible disaster.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes or tropical storms can lead to lost power, crop damage, wrecked buildings and insurance claims, according to a department news release.
Preparations farmers can take, according to the release, include:
• Buying or arranging to rent special equipment, including generators, fuel, hand fuel pumps, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, flashlights, and water and feed for both people and animals.
• Turning off propane, moving livestock and equipment and updating phone numbers in the face of an approaching disaster.
• Clearing debris from drainage ditches to prevent clogging.
• Keeping trees back from power lines and buildings.
• Keeping all records above flood levels.
• Having an emergency plan for families and farm staff.
• Securing equipment that could be blown away.
• Placing identifiers on animals in case they get lost.
• Storing feed on higher ground and in areas where it's accessible.
The VDAC notes that horse owners should locate facilities that can take in horses if there is an emergency, and find out whether any tests or vaccines are needed beforehand.
Shenandoah County Cooperative Extension Agent Bobby Clark said the VDACS was offering valuable advice.
"Being prepared for disaster situations, storms, what-not, is very, very important," he said on Thursday. "It's my experience that most experienced farmers, those farmers that have been around for 20, 30 years, they usually are some of the best-prepared people in the whole region. Most of the time, they can fairly well handle what comes at them, within reason.
"I do find that a couple sectors of the ag community that should really give this some hard thought -- because sometimes they just don't seem to be as prepared as they should -- is horse owners and new farmers."
Clark stressed the importance of having feed accessible, "for example, when there's 2 feet of snow on the ground."
He said farmers also should know what their insurance carriers will cover.
Clark was keeping an eye Hurricane Isaac.
"Right now today, there are farmers who have shifted their harvest plans to chop corn silage out of some river bottoms because of this storm that's coming at us," he said. "We're probably going to get some rain, whether it's 1 inch or 5, I don't know."
It's too soon to predict how heavy the rainfall from Isaac in the Northern Shenandoah Valley will be, National Weather Service meteorologist Heather Sheffield said Thursday afternoon.
"We're expecting remnants of it, but not until Monday and Tuesday," she said. "It's hard to tell because it all depends on the track of the storm. We're expecting widespread showers for Monday and Tuesday."
While there's a 40-50 percent chance of rain those days, no high winds are expected, Sheffield said.