While it has been years since the Delmarva region has felt the full force of a hurricane, Hurricane Florence appears poised to approach the East Coast and likely will bring troublesome winds and rain with it. The National Weather Service forecasts the potential for tropical storm force winds to affect all of Delmarva, with the eastern shore of Virginia facing the greatest likelihood of strong rain and wind.
As such, Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. (DPI) is emphasizing that chicken growers everywhere prepare now for the possibility of heavy rain and damaging winds.
Steps chicken growers should take now include:
- Check the operating condition of your backup generators and ensure adequate fuel and filter supplies for several days of operations. Make sure automatic starting systems are ready to go.
- Make sure there is adequate propane gas on the farm, and arrange an earlier-than-normal delivery, if necessary.
- Check your feed inventory, and notify the chicken company if there is reason to believe that a delivery will be needed before the next normal delivery.
- Make sure cell phones are fully charged and have rechargeable battery packs on hand in case landline telephone service is lost.
- Secure outside objects on your farm — signs, tools, boxes, etc. — so they don’t blow and cause damage.
- Check the security of roofing materials, chicken house siding and windows and doors to make sure they will not blow off or blow open. Corners and edges of buildings are particularly vulnerable.
- Be sure drainage ditches are free of debris and are adequate to move large volumes of water away from the chicken houses.
- Be prepared to keep birds longer than normal in case processing plants are unable to operate.
- Be sure all equipment like tractors and skid loaders are fully fueled.
- Put important documents into waterproof containers.
- Have cash on hand, since some merchants without electricity might not be able to process credit and debit cards.
DPI said if there is no electricity whatsoever, house conditions will need to be monitored more frequently, and adjustments will need to be made as needed.
Additionally, if strong winds knock down trees, DPI said to make farm lanes and houses accessible to delivery vehicles as soon as it is safe to do so.