Animals affected by disasters

State Departments of Emergency Management prepare and respond to natural disasters by implementing the orchestrated emergency response plans, which state, federal and non-profit partners help develop over the years. These plans, that also include responses to the intentional or accidental introduction of highly pathogenic zoonotic or strictly animal diseases, are considered ever-green and updated based on emerging technology and review of tabletop exercises.

For those farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, zoos, aquaria, equine facilities, animal shelters, pet stores, biomedical research facilities and companion animal owners in need of assistance following Hurricane Florence and then Hurricane Michael in the South East, I hope the following resources can be of assistance.

South Carolina

On October 8, 2018, South Carolina State Veterinarian Boyd H. Parr, DVM implemented “temporary exceptions to the regulations governing the importation and exportation of animals coming into and leaving South Carolina as a result of Hurricane Michael.  All animals moving under these exceptions are expected to return to their state of origin no later than 10/31/18 unless this order is extended or revised.”  The exceptions, set forth at the Clemson Livestock Poultry Health website, permit interstate movement without a Coggins test result form or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection.

A comprehensive list of resources are available on Clemson’s Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery website, including, for example, links to (1) Hurricane Guidance for Livestock Owners; (2) Disaster Plan for Horses; (3) Emergency Equine Stable Sites; Flooding Hay Request Form; (4) Animal/Agriculture Emergency Support Function (ESF)-17 Ag Damage Assessment Information Form; and (5) Business Continuity for Agriculture/Secure Food Supply Plans.

In the face of Hurricane Florence, South Carolina previously suspended certain motor vehicle requirements, including, “such federal rules and regulations, in conjunction with S.C. Code Ann. §§ 56-5-4010 et seq., which establish size, weight, and load requirements for South Carolina highways, for, in relevant part, “Persons and vehicles transporting livestock, poultry, food for livestock and poultry, and crops ready to be harvested.”

Georgia

In Georgia, the Department of Agriculture has a Hurricane Response Center available on its website that also provides links to relevant information, including tips for those impacted by the storm.  Guidance is available related to livestock, pets, food, fuel, crops and other important information, such as:

0/12/2018 Commissioner Black Gets First Glimpse of Hurricane Michael’s Damage

10/12/2018 Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool

10/11/2018 Hurricane Michael Devastates Georgia’s Agricultural Industry

10/10/2018 Disaster Assistance Fact Sheet

10/10/2018 Press Release: Georgia Department of Agriculture Responds to Threat of Hurricane Michael

10/10/2018 Hurricane Michael: Animal Interstate Movement Requirements for Entry into Georgia from Florida are Temporarily Suspended UPDATED!

10/09/2018 Georgia National Fair Press Release: Fair Closed Wednesday October 10th, 2018

10/09/2018 Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 92 counties in Georgia

Resources for Animal Food Producers in Flooded Areas of Gulf Coast

Like South Carolina, Georgia  and Florida temporarily suspended their interstate importation requirements for the transportation of animals.

Florida

Florida, with its long history of exemplary emergency preparedness and response, continues to implement those plans, including “[s]upporting pet-friendly shelters, agricultural producers, and local communities with various needs for supplies, transportation and staffing.”

North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, N.C. State University Cooperative Extension and N.C. Cattlemen’s Association issued a warning on Sept. 22, 2018 to its constituents that “an individual was offering operational recovery assistance to producers with the claim that he had been authorized by the South Carolina state government. A background check on this individual proved this to be false.”

We are asking that if you are contacted by organizations or individuals that you do not know and you have a concern about their legitimacy, to please get the name of the individual/team, phone numbers, emails, license plate numbers, etc. and share that with your county Emergency Management Services.

USDA

A long-time partner with state departments of agriculture in emergency response, USDA provides resources and information on its website.  Its role  is “to provide food, emergency housing, community, as well as farmer and rancher assistance to individuals and small businesses affected by severe storms and flooding . . . [and] to work with states affected by severe storms and flooding regarding requests for various assistance, waivers and flexibilities in administering federal nutrition assistance programs.”  USDA also provides link to FEMA’s app for shelter and related information, as well as disaster assistance programs for farmers.

FDA

FDA, concerned about contamination of crops from floodwaters, provides relevant guidance on its website, “Crops Harvested from Flooded Fields Intended for Animal Food: Questions and Answers.”  In some cases, and with specific FDA approval, crops intended for human consumption can be used for animal feed.

The FDA will work with producers to consider requests to recondition an adulterated crop into animal food on a case-by-case basis. FDA’s compliance guide (CPG 675.200) provides a step-by-step process for reconditioning requests.

AVMA

The AVMA helps veterinarian impacted by disasters and provides emergency preparedness guidance on its website.

Hopefully, everyone impacted by these recent storms will find these and other resources helpful as they rebuild their properties, care for their animals, and recover.

There are a number of responses that have been established at the national and state level to respond to emergencies that affect animals, either intentionally—as a result of agriterrorism or bioterrorism—or coincidentally as a result of natural disasters or disease outbreaks.

Those teams include:

  1. The National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps (NAHERC) that was established in 2001 by the United States Department of Agriculture to respond to domestic or international animal disease outbreaks and other disasters impacting animal health.
  2. Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT®) whose mission is to provide, upon request by a State, operational emergency response and preparedness programs to that State’s animal health authorities, veterinary medical associations, and other relevant organizations.
  3. National Veterinary Response Teams (NVRT), created in 2007 by the the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as part of its National Disaster Medical System. With the formation of NVRT, some of the previous roles of VMATs “transitioned to one of support at the state and local level and includes conducting early assessments of animal and veterinary medical infrastructure during emergencies and serving as animal emergency response educators in non-urgent times.”

States play a pivotal role in response to any emergency or disaster. State Animal Response Teams (SART) are interagency state organizations dedicated to preparing, planning, responding, and recovering during animal emergencies in the United States.

SART is a public-private partnership, joining government agencies with the private concerns around the common goal of animal issues during disasters. The first SART was founded in North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Since then, over 75% of States have developed their own SART, Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps (VMRC) or equivalent organization(s).

All response teams serve under the umbrella of each State’s Emergency Response.

The National Response Framework, part of the National Incident Management System as described on FEMA’s website “is intended to be used by the whole community. The intended audience for this page is individuals, families, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and local, state, tribal, territorial, insular area, and Federal governments.”

It is important for everyone to be aware of local, state, and federal control over and responsibility for response to emergencies, because, as noted by FEMA:

Government resources alone cannot meet all the needs of those affected by terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other catastrophic events. When disaster strikes, people throughout the community and our nation pitch in to help the response effort.

 

More on emergency response infrastructure soon . . .