The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses in the path of Hurricane Dorian that USDA has programs that provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA staff in regional, state and county offices stand ready and are eager to help.
In a continuing effort to serve the public, USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster assistance organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center website, located at www.usda.gov/topics/disaster. This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledgebase of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool provide an easy way to access USDA disaster information and assistance.
USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues, at www.farmers.gov/recover/disaster-assistance-tool#step-1. The tool walks users through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster.
Severe weather forecasts often present the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. USDA encourages those in the path of Hurricane Dorian to take the following precautions to protect the safety of their food:
- Place appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
- Freeze water in small plastic storage bags or containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold.
- Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Consider getting 50 pounds of dry or block ice if a lengthy power outage is possible. This amount of ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
- Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
- Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.