With Hurricane season officially under way, Hugh Weathers, South Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture, is encouraging livestock owners to prepare for potential severe weather.

Commissioner Weathers says people should not wait until there is an evacuation order to think about how they will deal with their livestock and other animals. Food, water, shelter, and possibly relocating animals are a top concern for animal and livestock owners.

“I encourage everyone to plan ahead to ensure their animals, both large and small, do not become victims of a storm,” Weathers said.

He added there are numerous resources available to help farmers and their families plan ahead with their emergency plans for hurricane season.

Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science is estimating there will 11 named tropical storms and five will be hurricanes this year.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo striking the South Carolina coast as a Category 4 hurricane. Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston, Sept. 22, 1989. Damage estimates were $7 billion in the mainland United States.

“Although South Carolina has not been hit directly since Hurricane Hugo, we still need to be vigilant and prepared for a hurricane or any natural disaster,” Weathers said.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture offers several tips for residents to think about while planning for a hurricane or any natural disaster.

• Ensure animal vaccinations and other health requirements are up-to-date.

• If possible, make arrangements in advance for evacuation of horses.

• Make sure trailers for carrying animals are current on maintenance.

• Keep food and potable water for animals on hand.

• Ensure livestock food stays dry. Wet food is no good for animals.

• Carry animal health and vaccination records with you during an evacuation.

For more information on evacuating livestock, contact Mary Ellen Tobias with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture at 803-734-2210 or visit http://www.agriculture.sc.gov.