RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is dispatching inspectors and field forces to begin assessing damage to the state’s agriculture industry and to ensure food is safe for consumers. Inspectors are waiting for flood waters to recede to safe levels before making site visits. In the meantime, they are contacting firms to determine which areas will be prioritized.
“This was an unprecedented storm with flooding expected to exceed that from any other storms in recent memory. We know agricultural losses will be significant because the flooding has affected the top six agricultural counties in our state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who conducted an aerial survey of damage on Tuesday. “The footprint of flooding from this storm covers much of the same area hit by flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which only worsens the burden on these farmers.”
Preliminary livestock losses are 3.4 million poultry and an estimate of 5,500 hogs. Estimates on crop losses are not available.
This is a list of NCDA&CS programs and post-hurricane efforts:
Emergency Programs has activated an Incident Management Team while coordinating with the State Emergency Operations Center and staffing the Ag Emergency Hotline number, 1-866-645-9403, to coordinate disaster response.
Agronomists are making calls to find out the extent of crop damage in their areas. They will get out and start making site visits when it is safe to do so.
Our Veterinary Division is working with livestock and poultry producers to assess risk to livestock operations. We have depopulation teams on standby and are assisting growers with disposal concerns.
Our Environmental Programs and Division of Soil and Water Conservation staff are assisting livestock and poultry farmers with recovery to ensure environmental impacts are minimized to the extent possible.
Our Veterinary Division is also working with animal shelters, animal control and animal organizations to ensure that companion animals are looked after. We are helping to coordinate needs for co-located shelters and consulting on animal issues.
Our Food Distribution Division has sent many truckloads of food to assist in disaster relief efforts. USDA food has been delivered in Little Washington, Goldsboro, Kinston and New Bern.
Food and Drug inspectors are reaching out to grocery stores and other outlets. They will be visiting stores in places where there have been prolonged power outages or flooding when it is safe to do so.
Meat and Poultry Division inspectors will be visiting processing plants to ensure they are safe to begin operating again. Inspectors will also ensure any meat or poultry products at processing plants that became temperature compromised or otherwise unsafe to eat because of the storm do not enter the public food supply.
Standards Division inspectors will respond to consumer complaints and requests by stations to visit gas stations to ensure that water didn’t get into the gas holding tanks, which will ruin a car’s engine.
The Southeastern Ag Events Center in Lumberton is being used as an emergency shelter as well as staging grounds for Duke Power, FEMA, National Guard and other emergency response groups.
TheStructural Pest Control and Pesticides Division has a Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program that can aid farmers and homeowners with safely disposing of flooded pesticides.
The N.C. State Fair serves as an evacuation area for horses. Currently, 12 horses have been relocated to the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds also served as a temporary relocation area for companion animals from Carteret County, these animals have been moved to other rescue groups.
The N.C. Forest Service is assisting in several areas. More than 230 forest service staff are involved with rescue and recovery efforts. Additional forest service staff are also engaged in assisting their local county emergency response.
N.C. Forest Service response includes:
Organizing chainsaw crews and helping landowners with questions they have about their timber after a disaster. N.C. Forest Service Incident Management “Red” Team consisting of 41 personnel is working in unified command with N.C. Emergency Management and N.C. National Guard with Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration (RSOI) operation in Garner, NC. This location stages and houses about 1,000 resources from various locations around the country that are being moved into affected areas when it’s safe to do so.
The N.C. Forest Service Incident Management “Green” Team consisting of 16 personnel is assisting the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service Emergency Operation Center.
The N.C. Forest Service is also providing an eight-person camp crew assisting to assist with housing and feeding resources staged at the Forest Service Training Facility in Kinston.
N.C. Forest Service personnel are also assisting at various county Emergency Operations Centers including Beaufort, Greene, Brunswick, Duplin, Pender, Bladen, the Eastern EOC in Kinston and others.
A five-person crew with two skidders are being staged to help with debris removal.
A six-person saw crew is being staged in Pender County, an eight person saw crew is assigned to Carteret County, a 16-person crew to Brunswick County, a five-person crew to Rowan County, a two-person crew to Harnett County.
Another 89 NC Forest Service personnel identified as available for assignment on saw crews and other positions as needed.