2019 Tornado Damage Survey and Disaster Relief Resources

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Severe storms on Monday, May 13, 2019 led to an EF-2 tornado touchdown in the Wendell and Zebulon area of Wake County, North Carolina. The National Weather Service uses the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF-Scale) to rate the intensity of tornadoes in the United States, which ranges on a scale from minor EF-0 to severely damaging EF-5. EF-2 types are characterized by having winds ranging from 111 to 135 miles per hour and causing “considerable damage.” A field assessment of visual damage was conducted in the area to determine the level of damage and areas affected by the tornado (See Figure 1). To date, only injuries and structural damage have been reported to authorities.

Image of tornado activity chart

Which agencies can assist with disaster relief?
Once a disaster strikes, it’s important to assess the level of damage on your property and contact the appropriate agencies for assistance. For agricultural producers, the following agencies and their contacts provide various forms of disaster relief.

  • Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) – FEMA essentially provides housing assistance and financial assistance for essential repairs. Note that farm losses are not eligible for this funding but farmers affected by disasters can qualify.
  • Local crop insurance agency (Farm Bureau Insurance, AgCarolina, et al.) – Crop insurance agents will need to be contacted immediately in effort to accurately document the damage and determine farm loss estimates for agribusinesses and individual farms affected by a natural disaster. Photos pre- and post-disaster are recommended and claims are often time-sensitive.
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA) – FSA is a subdivision of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides various federal- and state-funded disaster assistance programs to assist agribusinesses and agricultural communities recover from natural disaster events like tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. Certain criteria and required for each program; for more information please contact the Wake County FSA Representative, Jared Maguire, Jared.Maguire@nc.usda.gov (Email); (919) 231-6126 Ext 1265 (Office).
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wake County Center  – This office is able to assist with providing technical support for crop maintenance, assessing the severity of crop damage, and determining post-disaster loss estimates for disaster relief financial assistance.

Be prepared for a disaster in the future!
Natural disasters are traumatic events, no matter who is affected within the community and it is important to remember that recovery is a long process. Emergency preparedness is an essential preventative approach to help mitigate the damaging effects of any natural disaster. Below is a list of the following agencies involved in emergency preparedness and what service they provide to local communities in Wake County.

  • NC Department of Public Safety – ReadyNC is an online resource for emergency planning and emergency management, which also provides a free smartphone application to receive emergency alerts and up-to-date information on weather, travel, and hazard conditions throughout the state.
  • The NC Agromedicine Institute – Emergency planning templates and emergency kits are provided through the institute. They also provide workshops and trainings in emergency preparedness. For more information, contact Catherine LePrevost, Agromedicine Extension Specialist, celeprev@ncsu.edu (Email), (919) 515-2276 (Office).
  • Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) – Comprised of public health officials, County Commissioners, Emergency Responders, and private industries with hazardous materials, meets quarterly to improve emergency preparedness within Wake County. These meetings are open to the public and the next meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. August 8 at 221 S. Rogers Rd, Suite 160, Raleigh.
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wake County Center – This office is able to assist with providing resources and technical support in food and farm safety along with implementing emergency preparedness and prevention workshops. The next Farm Safety workshop is scheduled for June 15 in Fuquay-Varina. For more information, please contact Emily Mueller, emuelle@ncsu.edu (Email); (919) 410-3949 (Mobile).
  • The Farmer’s Legal Action Group – They provide information and resources for conventional and organic farmers in being prepared for disaster events.
  • FarmAid – They directly connect farmers to direct services that include, but are not limited to: financial assistance, technical support, legal advice, counseling, and family support.

Additional Resources
The Enhanced Fujita Scale, National Weather Service
Tornados, Tornado Preparedness, and Tornado Safety in Schools, NC Disaster Information Center
Emergency Preparedness Factsheets, NC Disaster Information Center
Recovery from a disaster, NC Disaster Information Center
Disaster Recovery Resources, Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA
ReadyNC, NC Department of Public Safety
NC Agromedicine Institute