Hurricane Florence is one of the worst storms to hit North Carolina, ever. CEFS’ Field Research, Education, and Outreach Facility at Cherry Research Farm is located in Goldsboro, one of the hardest-hit areas of the state. NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Research Station Manager Andy Meier and his crew have gone above and beyond — as they always do in extreme situations — to protect and care for livestock on the farm and minimize damage to crops and infrastructure. They even rescued a stranded motorist whose life was in danger. We are indebted to them for their service, hard work and bravery. Below please find updates from Andy Meier.
Rainfall: 22.68 inches
Current river level: 26.02 feet
Today got off to a raucous start around 2 am with a lively thunderstorm and a series of severe weather alerts including tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flooding alert screaming through the cell phone. In the end, nearly 5.25 inches of rain fell from 2 – 6 am. Many staff struggled getting to the station and we delayed start time until 10 am to let the flash flood water recede and roads open back up.
Staff went to the livestock units via boat today and it looks like that may be the norm for the next couple of days. We are thankful the crest is upon us soon and that it appears it will be around 3 ft less than in Matthew.
Today will feature some photos from the Small Farm Unit. Matt Ball was able to get in today, assess damage and take care of plants in the greenhouse. We cut the plastic from 5 of the 6 hi-tunnels to prevent permanent damage to the structures from the wind this past weekend. We did leave the plastic on the heated greenhouse in order to prevent damage to the heaters and other electronics in that house. It fared well. The photos below show water flooding the lower grounds of the Small Farm from the Little River and other pictures from around the unit.
Livestock were fine again today. Not much to report. We are very thankful this storm came before calving season at the dairy and beef. Pigs are doing just fine. I choose to use this photo since we’ve not taken many after the storm. This picture was taken the Friday morning of the storm. While it may seem random, it is always striking to me how resilient animals and smart animals are; if you look closely,, the vast majority of the cows are facing to the West. The wind was blowing driving rain out of the East when this was taken. More striking was how many of those cows were chewing their cuds and just hanging out, seemingly oblivious to the whole storm. Cows are so cool…….
Parting thought for the night: We witnessed 2 separate events today that clearly demonstrate how very dangerous moving flood water can be. This photo from afar is of a car at the entrance of the dairy. Wisely, they decided not to traverse the water in front of them. Sadly, Wayne County had to send First Responders though the water to go rescue them. What isn’t evident is how much water they had to drive through to get to the dairy in the first place. So risky for themselves and those that had to go get them. While it is difficult to see the car at the curve in the road, it is very easy to see how much water is in between me and the curve as well as how quickly it is moving. So senseless.
When we got the first pair of staff to the dairy, a motorist drove by a barrier, law enforcement and our boat to head through the water. The photo below shows how far that individual floated into our fields. Had it not been for the bravery of our two boat captains who went to rescue that motorist from the car, another statistic was a plausible outcome.
The car is just above the fire hydrant in the center of the picture, about 150 yards from the road it was on.
I’m proud of this entire team; they takes risks to save the life of an individual making poor choices and they take risks to care for animals that depend on us. They take risks to come to work when they could have chosen to stay at home and not try to come in. I just can’t say enough.
Finally, if you encounter water across the road; Turn around, Don’t drown. One person in Wayne County NC is extremely lucky the Cherry Farm Navy was there to take care of them. Thank you Jordan and Matt, for doing the right thing.
I think I’ll sleep well tonight………