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Master Deputy Sheriff Joseph “Shane” Robbins
Hurricane Preparedness for Livestock 

Lessons From Past Hurricanes:

  • Collapsed Barns - Owners thought their animals were safe inside their barn.
  • Kidney Failure - Due to dehydration, wandering animals were deprived of water for days.
  • Electrocution - Horses sought the lowest areas, in many cases this was a drainage ditch. The power lines that were blown down during the storm were strung over drainage ditches.
  • Fencing Failure - Wandering animals, although unharmed during the storm, were hit and killed on the roadways.

Debris caused the most severe injuries...

  • Many horses require euthanasia due to entanglement in barbed wire and the result was severe injuries.
  • Debris injuries were found most often in the hindquarters, because horses turn their tail to the storm.
  • Don't keep your animals in the barn to prevent debris injury. If your barn collapses - and there is no way to insure that it won't, large animals have no chance to save themselves and are likely to panic if they can't follow their instincts.

Before hurricane season begins...

  • Make sure all animals have current immunizations and coggins test.
  • If evacuation is necessary, make sure you take all necessary papers with you.
  • Locate safe areas within your county and make arrangements now to move your animals to that location.
  • Assist the receiving property owner in developing a disaster plan. A written DISASTER PLAN will help you and your animals survive.

Develop a specific Disaster Plan for your property...

Start with the farthest point of your property and move toward the house, listing all the things that need to be done. When you write your plan, consider the following guidelines:

  • Install a hand pump on your well now. You will never make a better investment. Well water will not become contaminated unless your well is submerged by flood waters.
  • As you landscape your property, use native plants. Nature has evolved these species to weather hurricanes. They will be much less likely to uproot and become debris.
  • Think debris! Take down and secure everything you can. Turn over and tie down picnic tables and benches or anything else too large to store.
  • Purchase mobile home tie downs for your livestock trailer and other vehicles. They cost about $6.00 each. Move vehicles, livestock trailers, etc., into the middle of the largest open area away from trees and tie them down.
  • Have a box filled with halters, leads, tapes, ropes, tarps and plastic, fly spray and animal medical supplies including bandages and medicines. Keep this box stored inside your home.
  • Keep two 2 liter soda bottles filled with water frozen in the freezer. They can be thawed in the refrigerator when electricity fails and it will keep the refrigerator cold. They can be used as a source of water, as they thaw.
  • City water becomes contaminated because purification systems are inoperable. To purify water, add 2 drops of chlorine bleach per quart and let it stand for half an hour.
  • Fill any large, outside vessels (row boats, canoes, feed troughs, dumpsters, etc.) with water. This keeps vessels from becoming debris and provides a source of water for animals, after the storm. Pool water and collected water should be kept chlorinated so it remains usable.
  • Shut off main electrical breakers, close gas and water valves, unplug appliances and turn off air conditioning.
  • Chain your propane tank to the ground with stakes and label it "propane." Label any hazardous material containers that may be on your property.
  • Bring chain saw, ladder, axe, shovel, pry bar, come along, metal cable, block and tackle, wire cutters, tool box, grill, charcoal and fluid into your house.
  • A two week supply of animal feed and medications should be brought into your house and stored in waterproof containers.
  • Contact out-of-town friends and relatives and keep them informed of your plans. It will be easier for you to contact them instead of them trying to contact you.
  • Make sure you have insurance that is adequate. Photograph or video tape all property and animals and take these with you, if you must evacuate.
  • Remember after the storm all transactions will have to be made in cash and banks and gas stations will be closed.
  • Close barn and/or stall doors. Open all interior pasture gates. Put I.D. on all animals and turn your large animals out!!! They may suffer debris injuries, but at least this way they have a chance.

Don't Go Out During The Storm!!!

If you are dead you can't help your animals.
Guidelines for Disaster Preparedness: Develop a Written Plan...

The first step is to develop a written plan. The first question to answer is whether or not your property is located in a storm surge flood area. This information may be obtained from your local government.

Even if you are not in an area subject to flooding, you may want to consider evacuating your horses if they are maintained in stables or pastures, of less than one acre, because this will not be enough area for them to avoid debris and collapsing buildings.

If you decide you must evacuate -- Do not try to evacuate with your livestock trailer, unless there is sufficient time!

If you cannot be on the road 72 hours before the storm is due to hit, you could be easily caught in traffic and high winds. Traffic on the highways will be moving very slowly, if at all. A livestock trailer is a very unstable vehicle in high winds, and high winds will arrive 8-10 hours or more before the storm hits. Remember, a fire engine loaded with water is a very stable emergency vehicle and it is considered out of service when sustained winds reach 40 mph.

Therefore, evacuating your animals out of the area may be too dangerous, but there are alternatives. Make plans now to move your animals to a safer area that is relatively near your home, before the storm. Long distance evacuation is not recommended as the storm may move faster than you anticipate.

When any Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico storm is named, all Floridians should take it seriously, watch it closely and begin implementation of their pre-written Disaster Plans. Review and update your disaster plan with your family on a regular basis.

The safest place for large animals to weather a storm is in a large pasture. The pasture should meet as many of the following guidelines as possible:

  • It should be free of exotic trees.
  • No overhead power lines.
  • It should be well away from areas that might generate wind driven debris.
  • It should have both low areas that animals can shelter in during the storm (preferably a pond) and higher areas that will not be flooded after the storm.
  • Should have woven wire fencing.

Long range disaster planning, fencing...

  • The clear winner is woven wire fencing. It acts like a volleyball net; in many cases falling trees will not even take it down. It stops debris and doesn't pull apart in high winds. Animals are less likely to get caught or tangled in it.
  • Board fencing blows down and becomes debris. If you use wood, back it with woven wire.
  • Avoid using barbed wire fencing because it cuts horses to ribbons and is easily torn down by flying debris.
  • Lay out your fence lines to keep animals away from power lines.
  • Each year, in May, replace rotten fence posts and make fencing repairs. This will make your fences as strong as possible for the start of Hurricane Season which begins on June 1st.

Building Construction:

  • Having a well built barn keeps it from becoming debris. Never think it is safe enough to protect your animals.
  • A simple, well strapped, open pole barn with a flat, properly secured metal roof or hurricane reinforced concrete barn is least likely to blow down.
  • Prefab trusses may not hold up. But if you use them make sure they have hurricane clips and are properly braced.
  • Roofing construction should either be metal or rolled roofing. Shingles and tile become small lethal weapons, which pastured animals cannot avoid. Large sheets of anything are more easily avoided by animals.
  • Consider some form of hurricane shutters for all glass windows and doors. Taping will prevent shattered glass from flying, but it will not prevent wind from entering through broken windows.

More Information...

If you would like additional information and would like additional assistance in locating an evacuation site that can accept large animals needing evacuation, contact:

A.H.O.O.F.
P. O. BOX 907
ARCADIA, FL 33821
941 494-1408