Weathering the storm

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

This month, Humberto became the first hurricane of the 2013 Atlantic season. While the Category 1 storm posed no threat to the U.S., its presence serves as a reminder that ag professionals must always be prepared for what lies ahead.

Retailers, dealers and growers should have emergency plans in place to minimize damage and losses caused by hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Allen Summers, president of the Asmark Institute, recommends that the possible scenarios be thought through carefully. “In a severe weather situation, people think they need a plan in place that relies on the fire department or the police—the community’s response mechanisms,” he said. “But those things may be working at a small percentage of full capacity. The advice we give is to look at what you can do to be self-sufficient.”

For example, in the spring of 2011, a record snowfall in Montana and Wyoming melted rapidly, raising the Missouri River 7 feet above flood levels, a once-in-500-year event. To contain the water, the Army Corps of Engineers shut the river’s valves, but that meant any rain that fell would have nowhere to go. The threat of major flooding was imminent in places like Omaha, Neb., so employees at the local Syngenta plant, situated in a low-lying valley, began developing an emergency plan. Existing plans addressed tornadoes and other disasters, but not floods, so they reached out to Syngenta plants in Greens Bayou, Texas, and St. Gabriel, La., which had well-developed hurricane plans, for insights into flood control. They then developed a plan for their specific situation, beginning with an incident command structure to detail everyone’s responsibilities.

“The incident command team brainstormed possible scenarios and what correct responses would look like,” said Bryce Danna, Omaha plant manager for Syngenta. “In each scenario, we identified decision points and wrote out the actions we would take if those points were reached.”

The plan also included internal and external emergency contacts and evacuation plans and routes. In all scenarios, the priorities remained constant: First protect people, then the environment, and then the assets and the production schedule.

An immediate concern of the incident command team was the need to build a sandbag berm around the plant—no small job for a 42-acre facility. Meanwhile, as a formulation site for Syngenta crop protection products, the Omaha plant had to maintain its production schedule. “We were protecting the facility, but we also had to deliver the business,” Tony Militti, Omaha maintenance engineer for Syngenta, said.

To implement the emergency plan, it was key for the team to have a firm grasp on the plant’s current inventory. “We had to understand exactly what materials we had and where they were, and then minimize storage requirements for them,” Danna added. “We emptied what we could and filled the tanks with water so they wouldn’t float away.”

With the help of the Syngenta regional office in Greensboro, N.C., the Omaha plant funnelled some production to other facilities. The regional office was able to help with procurement, too: Sandbags, pumps and trucks were hard to find around Omaha at that time.

Another challenge was to staff a 24/7 operation for the four months the flooding threat lasted. “People worked a lot of extra hours,” Danna says, “but they did it for the team.”

This team approach netted a win-win for Syngenta and its customers. “We missed no deliveries,” Militti said.

All contingencies need to be mapped out ahead of time, a lesson well learned in Omaha. “It pays huge dividends to be prepared,” Danna said. Now the Omaha employees have a thorough emergency response plan they use as a template. They review and update it annually, always adhering to that old, but wise adage: “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Grain Storage Systems

Behlen Grain Storage Systems offers large capacity bins with diameters from 16’ to 157’ and capacities exceeding 1,500,000 bushels. All ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form