Returning to a Farm after a Flood

Floods October 02, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Returning to a Farm after a Flood


Disaster recovery can be as dangerous as the disaster itself, especially if no disaster preparedness plan was implemented. This is especially true on farms and ranches where inherent farm hazards such as machinery and equipment, livestock, and agriculture chemicals are displaced and co-mingle, putting all emergency response personnel, farm workers and family members, and livestock in danger. First responders should recognize the hazards that exist and proceed with caution.

Utility Check

Look carefully for signs of damage to electrical components. Electrical components, such as switches and outlets, may have debris that will cause electrical hazards. Contact your electric utility for guidance. Never try to turn the electricity back on in areas that have been flooded before having the system checked. Depending on the extent of damage, gas lines also could sustain significant damage. Have the gas utility check the system for leaks before continuing service.

Care for the Animals

As with humans, the aftermath of disasters pose significant safety and health problems to livestock. Agriculture producers can minimize the safety risk to livestock in the following ways:

  1. Gather and dispose of trash, limbs, wire, and damaged equipment that could harm livestock. Clear and repair damaged fences.
  2. Make sure livestock have plenty of water and feed that have not been contaminated by pollutants. In some cases, it will be necessary to truck in water and feed, or move livestock to an area free from contamination.
  3. Immediately dispose of dead carcasses. Consult state rules on carcass disposal. Check with regulatory authorities to determine if any permits are required for emergency burial.
  4. Observe livestock for signs of infectious disease such as pneumonia or foot rot. Animals (or a representative sample) that die immediately following a disaster should be necropsied by a veterinarian.
  5. Spray livestock with insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes that may carry disease.

Farm Disaster Assistance

Agriculture producers do not have to face a disaster alone. If a farm or ranch has suffered a loss due to disaster, it may be eligible for assistance under Farm Service Agency programs.

Cleaning debris from field

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.