BATON ROUGE – Hurricane season officially began this month and lasts through November. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) urges everyone to begin planning.
“Living in Louisiana, we understand that being impacted by a hurricane is not a question of if, but when. Your best tool against a hurricane is preparation,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “I’m urging everyone to have a plan in place for you, your family, your property, and your pets/livestock for this upcoming hurricane season.”
Now is the time for residents to make a list of items to replenish hurricane emergency supplies and start thinking about how to prepare for the coming hurricane season.
Get a Game Plan
As with all hurricane seasons, you may need to leave your home quickly and travel to a safe place outside the affected area. If authorities advise you to evacuate, be prepared to leave immediately with your evacuation kit and plan in place. It is important to sit down with family and/or close friends to decide how you plan to communicate with each other, where you will go, and what your plans are in the event of an emergency. Write the plan down, make sure everyone has a copy, and keep a copy of the plan in your evacuation kit.
Don’t forget to plan for your pets! The LDAF is designated to assist in evacuating and sheltering household pets for evacuated citizens going to shelters during declared emergencies. You can find the planning guide for pet owners at http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Takeyourpet.bi-fold.pdf.
For all more planning resources, visit https://www.getagameplan.org/make-a-plan/.
Prepare Your Operation
In addition to ensuring your household and employees know your hurricane plan, now is the time to remove debris and secure large objects around your operation. This includes removing dead trees or cutting back tree limbs hanging over homes or businesses.
“It is imperative that you use a licensed arborist to cut trees around your property because they are trained and must maintain liability insurance. Hiring a licensed arborist protects you. Ask to see a license issued by LDAF before allowing any work to be done on your property. Also, be sure to get a written estimate and never pay for the job upfront,” said Commissioner Strain.
Refer to the LDAF website or LDAF Business App for mobile devices to verify the current license status of an arborist. The app, called LDAF Business Search, may be downloaded for free at the iTunes and Google Play stores.
Secure Important Records and Documents
Pre- and post-hurricane documentation is extremely important for insurance compensation and recovery assistance. You’ll want to have thorough records of damage and losses sustained on your farm as well as documentation of your cleanup and recovery efforts.
It is critical to document the inventory of farm buildings, vehicles, equipment, and livestock before a disaster occurs. Take photos, videos, or make written lists with descriptions. Keep copies of this inventory in multiple places: computer, off-site in a safe location, and on a cloud-based server where information is transmitted and saved weekly.
Remember, standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Regularly review your insurance policies with your agent to be sure you have adequate coverage, including flood insurance, for your facilities, vehicles, farm buildings, crops, and livestock. Note that there are limitations on how soon insurance coverage will take effect.
For more information on emergency preparation for livestock and pets, visit https://www.ldaf.state.la.us/animal-health/emergency-programs/.
Photo: File Photo