Preparing, Battling, and Coming Through Hurricane Florence: One Farmer's Story

Like most farmers, I went to work getting ready for the storm (or a storm) long before I ever heard the words Hurricane Florence. No farmer worth his salt begins preparing, say, a lagoon for a storm when he hears a storm is on the way – he makes sure a lagoon can weather a storm all year long.As Florence headed for the coast, we secured trash cans, made sure diesel fuel and gasoline for generators would be available and feed for the pigs was well stocked. During the storm, like hundreds of other farmers, we made sure buildings were holding up under the stress of the hurricane winds and that generators came on – and stayed on – once we lost electricity.  And we made routine checks on the pigs to be sure they had feed and water as well as proper ventilation.IMG_3063And, of course, the unexpected happened. During one torrential downpour, the generator on our farm ran hot.  When it stopped working the ventilation fans stopped and the curtains in our hog barn dropped to allow the pigs to have proper ventilation.  Next, as quickly as we could, we repaired the generator and restored the electricity – then we went to work rolling up each curtain and resetting the curtain drop machines.  All these protections are in place for one reason: To ensure the safety of our animals. And the protections worked.One other surprise: During the storm one feed system broke down so, every day, we had to bucket feed those pigs until we were able to fix the feed system.I’m also a local volunteer firefighter and when I wasn’t working on the farm I helped other firemen remove trees from roadways with our tractor.  Hurricane Florence didn’t allow me much time away from the farm but my brothers and sisters in the fire service worked day and night rescuing people from floods and helping families in trouble.During the hurricane, like many families, we also had leaks at our homes and were constantly monitoring the generators that provide electricity to our refrigerators, lights, and fans. And, of course, simply keeping our families safe as the hurricane roared inland was our biggest worry. I should also add that, during the hurricane, many farmers I know had a lot tougher time, and overcame harder struggles, than I did.IMG952602After the storm, with so many roads flooded, we’ve had to begin rationing feed supplies for our pigs, to make it last until feed trucks can safely travel.  And we’ve also begun to repair roofs across the farm. Everyday, we monitor the lagoon levels. And, of course, we already have a plan in place, preparing for the possibility of another storm.--Chad Herring, NCFF Executive Directoredidt