Rapidly intensifying in the Mid-Atlantic ocean, Hurricane Florence has just been upgraded to a Category 4 with 130 mph winds. Just before estimated landfall on Thursday evening, Florence is expected to strengthen with winds up to 150 mph. Its target: the Carolinas.
With the possibility that Florence will stall over the Atlantic, forecasters are gearing up for a disastrous amount of rain that could cause flooding throughout the states. But while the states bracing for impact are ordering evacuations and preparing for floods, millions of living beings will not even be considered: farmed animals.
According to USDA reports, there were about 9.3 million hogs at farms in North Carolina in 2016. The state’s human population is 10 million—the fact that pigs almost outnumber human residents is staggering. Also, poultry production in North Carolina has increased from 60 million to 148 million birds in just 20 years.
And unlike companion animals, who by law must be included in government evacuation plans during natural disasters, farmed animals are afforded no legal protections. So while floodwaters rush into factory farms, animals will most likely drown in cages and crates with absolutely no chance of survival, while farmers flee with companion animals for safety.
This isn’t just a possibility. It is almost certain.
In fact, a 2016 Washington Post article reports that floods in eastern North Carolina destroyed factory farms after Hurricane Matthew, killing tens of thousands of chickens, hogs, and other farmed animals.
According to the Post, “In his morning briefing, the governor said that ‘a lot of poultry and animals—a lot, thousands’ already had drowned and that more casualties were still expected.”
As horrifying as this is, it’s not the first time natural disasters have killed thousands of farmed animals in North Carolina. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd dumped 19 inches of rain on the state, killing more than 2 million turkeys, chickens, and other farmed animals.
In more recent memory, Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas last summer, leaving an undocumented number of farmed animals dead in its wake. Numerous videos show cows stranded while seeking higher ground to avoid rushing floodwaters.
Drowning in cages, crates, and metal sheds is another reminder of the dangers farmed animals face when cruelly confined and unable to escape fires, floods, or other natural disasters.
Natural disasters are tragic to all beings, but for animals trapped at factory farms, life itself is tragic. Spending much of their lives in filthy, unnatural conditions, many are crammed into cages or crates so small the animals can barely move. Most undergo painful mutilations without painkillers. All are violently killed.
The factory farming industry, which willingly leaves trapped farmed animals behind to drown, sees animals as nothing more than commodities. Their tragic, slow, horrific deaths are nothing but “lost profits.” But thankfully, we can end our support of the industries that legally neglect and abuse animals. Make the compassionate choice today and switch to a vegan lifestyle.