Millions of North Carolina chickens drown in Hurricane Matthew floods

Some 5 million birds killed as floods hit US state

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 4:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 4:50am

Flooding from Hurricane Matthew has killed up to 5 million poultry birds in North Carolina, most of them chickens, the state’s top environmental official said on Wednesday, hurting a major contributor to the local economy.

Donald van der Vaart, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, also told Reuters that some pits that hold hog waste had been inundated with flood waters. The waste mixing with water may eventually make its way into rivers, streams and the Atlantic Ocean.

Van der Vaart said he did not know how many pits had been inundated. The impact on the environment will be minimal because the hog waste will be “vastly diluted” by flood waters, he said.

“We’ve had a tremendous loss of life on the poultry side,” van der Vaart said.

Agriculture is the top industry in North Carolina, contributing about US84 billion to the economy, according to the state’s agriculture department.

Last year, North Carolina produced about 823 million chickens for meat, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

North Carolina officials urged people to leave low lying areas as rivers swollen by rainfall from Hurricane Matthew rise. Governor Pat McCrory said 19 people had died, mostly drownings.