With Hurricane Michael expected to make land fall soon as a Category 4 Hurricane, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida governors have declared states of emergency ahead of this beast of a storm. This comes at a critical time during harvest for farmers in the affected area.
If Michael makes landfall as a Category 4 storm, as expected, it will be the strongest hurricane to ever come ashore along the Florida Panhandle in records dating to 1851, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University. The USDA reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families, and small businesses potentially impacted by Hurricane Michael of programs to provide assistance in the wake of disasters.
“Hurricane Michael quickly grew into a dangerous storm, and residents within its path should heed the advice from their local authorities to ensure their safety,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “All of USDA’s relevant agencies are ready to assist when natural disasters strike, and we will be there for our farmers and ranchers affected by this storm to get them the help they need.”
USDA has important roles in both response to hurricanes and recovery efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the Federal response to support the affected States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service coordinates the response of interagency firefighting personnel, equipment, and supplies mobilized in support of FEMA’s response efforts under the National Response Framework.
USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website Farmers.gov that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover after a natural disaster. Options for relief include, food safety and food assistance, crop and livestock loss, and community recovery resources.
Farmers have been working around the clock to harvest as much of their crop as they could before Wednesday. It is times like this that we reflect back on what makes such a strong and resilient kind. We hope everyone in the path of this hurricane stays strong and safe.