Many farmers throughout Sampson County are dealing with problems as a result of Hurricane Matthew.
Eileen Coite, director for Sampson County Cooperative Extension, said many farmers are having to take longer routes to get to their farmland because of the many roads that have been closed due to flooding and wash outs.
“The major problem with this storm is the transportation issues,” Coite said.
She added that communication is also an issue since phone lines are down throughout the county. This creates problems for daily business.
During the storm, many animals were affected too because of flooding. Coite reported that poultry farmers had loses because of the closeness of streambanks.
“Because of the flooding, we’ve had some issues where animals have been lost or drowned because of the waters rising,” Coite said. “That’s been a major issue as well.”
Damage occurred throughout Sampson County, but the southern region was hit the hardest. In 1999, county growers dealt with a similar situation with Hurricane Floyd, but agriculture experts say Matthew may hurt a little more.
“I think this is going to end up being as bad, if not worse, than Floyd,” she said. “Particularity with the flooding and losses.”
Agents from Sampson County Cooperative Extension are assessing damage and helping farmers in the area.
“Everyone is going in different directions trying to help,” Coite said. “We also been assisting the county with the human shelter when folks have been displaced in their homes or for folks who were traveling in the storm and got caught in the water.”
In the wake of the hurricane, it’s still to early to add up the financial losses in Sampson County.
“That’s something that’s still being assessed,” she said. “The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is working on that. Once that’s done, those numbers get turned in to the Department of Agriculture. That will be a way to tell what the final assessment is.”
For assistance, farmers can contact the FSA, which has programs that help, particularly with livestock or animal losses. Coite said disaster programs may be available.
“If they had mortalities they can sign up for that program by providing documentation on what has been lost,” she said.
There’s also an emergency hotline through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. The number is 1-866-645-9403. Coite said assistance is available locally by calling the extension office at 910-592-7161.
“They can go that route too and let us know how we can help,” Coite said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.