It was early September 14, 2018 when Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, and very few were prepared for the wrath she would bring. Heavy rain and extreme winds pounded the coast and swept inward through the Carolinas causing a widespread emergency for the state.
Right in the path of the storm sat our Heritage Pork farm in Kenansville, NC.
As the cone of uncertainty became more certainly pointed in the direction of the pork farm, we were in constant communication with Adam Grady, the farmer who raises our GOS Heritage pigs and lives on the farm with his family.
Adam sprung into action to make preparations. Thankfully, because of our small scale operation and close relationship with our farmers, we were able to move quickly to safeguard the farm and livestock as much as possible.
In the week before the storm made landfall, the pigs were moved to a sacrifice pasture on higher ground where they would be safe from rising floodwaters. Normally, the animals are rotated to fresh pasture every 2-3 days to keep the pastures in good condition and to prevent excessive rooting, which helps regenerate the soil.
During the first day of the storm, we saw wind damage to farm houses as strong gusts peeled back the rooftops. Water rose rapidly in the pastures. As heavy rain continued overnight, water continued to rise, rivers overflowed, and fields and roadways were completely submerged.
By September 15th, the winds were subsiding, but rain totals were reaching 24 inches, putting much of the farm, and Kenansville, under water. At this point, we could not be completely sure that the livestock were ok, but conditions were not conducive to safely check all areas.
Two days after landfall, on September 16th, floodwaters in the area had already risen past the historical highs of Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
The rain had stopped, and we were thankful to find that the hogs were ok. Most areas were only available by boat at this time.
In a very short time, Hurricane Florence brought significant damage to the Heritage Pork farm, particularly our pastures and farm houses. We are, however, extremely thankful that our farm partner, Adam Grady, and his family are safe, and that we were able to protect the animals. This was our top priority as we braced for impact.
Now, we are beginning recovery efforts to rebuild our pastures and farm houses. Unfortunately, by having to keep the pigs in a sacrifice pasture for an extended period of time, we lost a great deal of our healthy soil and forage in that particular pasture. Others were damaged by extreme storm surge that engulfed the farm.
Keep an eye on our blog over the next few weeks for updates and more information on our recovery efforts. Thank you to all of you who contacted us during and after the storm with well wishes and offering support!