Here are the biggest takeaways regarding the damage and casualties caused by Hurricane Florence …

A total of 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 pigs died from flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.

Farms, cut off from supplies, are currently unable to distribute food to the animals.

Animal feces flooded into rivers.

Human feces flooded into rivers after power failures at waste treatment plants.

Damaged water treatment facilities in several counties are unable to produce drinking water for residents.

And arsenic, lead, and mercury spilled into local rivers after a Duke Energy coal ash landfill overflooded.

According to reports from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture released on September 18, more than 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 pigs died from flooding following Hurricane Florence. The hurricane also swamped more than 60 farms and caused structural damage to earthen dams containing animal feces and urine.

The Department of Environmental Quality also said that earthen dams in Duplin County, North Carolina, have been breached, spilling contamination waste. More than 25 pits with animal urine and feces have experienced structural damage or have overflown from flooding.

The deaths are disturbing, but experts say they should be taken in context. The North Carolina Pork Council says that industry officials took many precautions to prevent animal mortalities, but the damage from the hurricane was too great.

The Humane Society, however, thinks we can do better.

“… it is clear that disaster planning for animals held in large numbers is far from where it needs to be for the lives affected, both human and animal,” the society said in a statement.

Almost equally alarming are reports that more than 30 farms near Lumberton, North Carolina, have been isolated by floodwaters, hampering the delivery of food to surviving animals.

Hurricane Florence also created serious environmental safety threats. Municipal sewage plants flooded, spilling human feces into now-contaminated rivers. In a statement on September 17, three days after Hurricane Florence unleashed torrential rainfalls upon the state, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority said that more than five million gallons of human feces have spilled into the Cape Fear River following power outages at the plant.

Additionally, more than seven public sewage treatment works are non-operational and 16 community water treatment facilities are also unable to provide drinking water due to damage from the hurricane. 

Damage from hurricanes is often widespread. And believe it or not, there are worse kinds of toxic waste than human feces: arsenic, lead, mercury, and coal ash.

Duke Energy’s coal ash landfill at L.V. Sutton Power Station near Wilmington flooded from Hurricane Florence’s torrential rain, contaminating rivers with arsenic, lead, and mercury.

The Associated Press and environmental group Cape Fear River Watch shared disturbing photos of river waters after the contamination. 

Image: Hog Farm

Farm buildings full of gray floodwater following Hurricane Florence. (Courtesy of the Associated Press)

The Associated Press reports: 

“Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said a full assessment of how much ash escaped from the waterlogged landfill is ongoing. The company initially estimated Saturday that about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced, enough to fill about 180 dump trucks. At a different power plant near Goldsboro, three old coal ash dumps capped with soil were inundated by the Neuse River.”

Do you know a way to help the hurricane victims, both human and animal? Let us know in the comments below!

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