Feed Bites

Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Written by: Sarah Novak   |   September 9, 2019

Emergency Preparedness

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” U.S. Postal Service’s unofficial motto.

In the animal food industry, we understand this well – no matter what, animals still need to be fed every day.

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its outlook for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season and it doesn’t look good. The conditions are set for above-normal hurricane activity this August through October. While many in the Corn Belt may not be directly impacted by a hurricane, such as the deadly Hurricane Dorian which impacted the Eastern seaboard last week, the after-effects of rain and tornados could head in that direction.

Over the past several years, the American Feed Industry Association staff have talked with members shortly after they experienced natural disasters and here are a few of the tips they suggested for preparing for any extreme weather event.

  • Prepare an emergency response plan and practice it! As part of this plan, think about your mission-critical infrastructure and how a natural disaster could impact it.
  • Make sure your data is backed up and test the back-up. With today’s technology, you can communicate remotely and stay in touch with your staff and customers.
  • Know your suppliers’ contact information, especially any transportation companies. Even if you have your own fleet, have a few back-ups in your pocket. Several members commented in the wake of storms that the hardest part was getting ingredients in after the storm, which severely limited their ability to make feed.
  • Talk with customers and help them prepare. This is especially important if you have advanced warning (such as with a hurricane). Ask them if their feed bins and gas generators are full? Can animals be moved to higher ground? Have manure pits been managed? Many times, roads are not passable after the storm, so think about all the things that can be done proactively beforehand.
  • Protect your facility. Again, if you have advanced warning, batten down the hatches! Provide sandbags to any areas that are prone to flooding. Turn off utilities prior to the hurricane, if possible. Check the trees around your facility and remove dead branches. Check the windows and the roof.
  • Make sure your employees are safe. Think about your employees – what can you do to help them before and after the event. How are you going to communicate with them? What safety checks need to happen before your facility re-opens? One company purchased a large number of generators, thus getting a lower price, and allowed employees to purchase them at the discounted rate.
  • And finally, expect the unexpected. Remain flexible and adaptable. Natural disasters never go according to plan. After the storm has passed and your facility is back and running, be sure to sit down with your staff and think about the things that went well and what can be improved upon so you are ready for the next time.

Our industry always looks to work together before and after the storm, as evidenced by some of the recent storms and AFIA is always here as a resource to get information out to broader industry when needed – don’t hesitate to contact us!

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