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Women In Ag: Hurricane Matthew Is Gone. However . . .

Hurricane Matthew passed over North Carolina on October 8. Almost one week later, the full extent of the damage is still not known.

Thousands of people who were forced to evacuate are still in shelters. Many more are without power or water. Swift water rescue teams have saved hundreds of people who couldn’t get to safety, yet 20 people have died.

The wind caused damage, but it’s the water that’s responsible for much of the heartache. As the storm blew around us, my Facebook feed was filled with requests for help: 

     Boats to help evacuating hogs because waters were rising around their house.  

     Boats to help move cows and horses who were standing in water up to their bellies. 

     Trucks to help move corn from grain bins that were getting ready to flood.

     Generators to power livestock barns or tobacco barns.

It was also filled with offers of help:

     Shelter for people whose homes flooded.

     A place to charge a cell phone, take a shower, and get a hot meal.

     Trucks to move livestock and pastures to keep them.

     Generators and fuel to keep them running.

Matthew dropped 15 inches of rain on some parts of the state, two weeks after tropical storms rained down in the same areas. The waters rose, overflowing creeks and rivers, to cover roads, fields, and businesses. 

Six days later, some roads are still closed, including parts of Interstate 95, because they either still have water across them or need repair. 

The storm hit North Carolina hard, with its effects felt in 48 of my state’s 101 counties, according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS). Commission of Agriculture Steve Troxler was quoted as saying 71% of the state’s total farm cash receipts are generated in those counties. 

The North Carolina Forestry Service has used its helicopters to deliver feed and hay to livestock in areas that trucks can’t reach because of waters. Employees have used boats to reach a dairy not 20 minutes from my house so the cows could be milked. Early estimates are that poultry farmers lost 2 million birds, but that number is expected to rise as the waters recede. 

Neighbors have helped neighbors. Assistance has poured in from other states. Linemen have been working all hours to restore power. 

We are not alone. Hurricane Matthew traveled up the East Coast after hitting Haiti. The storm’s power was great: Needs resulting from it might be greater.

The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and NC Baptists on a Mission are three of the organizations working across the state to provide assistance to those impacted by the storm.

Anyone in North Carolina agriculture needing assistance can call the Agriculture Emergency Hotline at 866/645-9403, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information can be found on NCDA&CS’s website.