CN August September 2023 Vol. 62 Issue 5


reports that 10,000 or more cattle had drowned. Numerous drones and airplanes flew over to video or record stranded cattle.” The close coordination between TCFA, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and other cattle groups in crisis management situations was evident. When Weinheimer wasn’t handling media inquires, John Robinson, NCBA senior vice president of communications, took calls.

Still, their toil was near mind-numbing, as the mission seemed never-ending.“The magnitude of the catastrophe made it evident how much work would be needed to remove and dispose of the cattle,” Weinheimer acknowledged. “We made sure to have daily, early- morning safety meetings. They were critical to remind people that since we were working long hours, exhaustion would set in. We did not want anyone going home injured. We were able to keep everyone safe throughout the event.” It took eight days to remove the cattle and dispose of them, delayed in part by two additional rains that extended the process by two to three days. All were handled under the oversight of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Weinheimer says the Texas Division of Emergency Management also reached out during the operation. “Along with all of this, the normal part of the yard crew was tasked with running the daily operations in caring for the remaining cattle not impacted by the flooding,” Weinheimer says.“They had to make sure cattle were sorted, processed, doctored and fed. Some pens wound up with cattle from mixed ownership, which required additional sorting. But no pen ever missed a feeding. Cattle received the same attention they would have enjoyed under normal circumstances.” Media Relations Throughout the event, Weinheimer was tasked with providing facts to the media and correcting false reporting. His mild manner helped him keep his cool. The disaster headlined news reports from regional and even national print, broadcast and online media. Many outlets had covered the disastrous explosion and fire at a regional dairy that resulted in the death of nearly 17,000 cows in April. They may have had the larger number of dead animals on their minds. “I engaged with the media onsite and by phone or email,” Weinheimer says, adding that he became frustrated with ongoing inaccurate claims.“There were

TCFA President and CEO Ben Weinheimer praises the Hereford community and the many others who provided expertise and just being good neighbors when the flood- hail phenomenon struck southwest of Hereford over Memorial Day weekend. Photo Courtesy Larry Stalcup

“It was an emotional rollercoaster. On some days, the morale was pretty good in getting the job done. Morale was low on others. It was wearing on all of us – whether it was at safety meetings, or saying grace over the meals that were brought out from the family and others in the Hereford community. Everyone leaned on each other to get through it together.” The Value of Association Membership From day one, representatives from Specialty Risk Insurance Agency were onsite to help the feedyard gather data on losses and assign values to cattle based on estimated weight and other economic factors important to a cattle peril policy claim.“They analyzed every detail of the claim to make sure underwriters had all information to make an accurate coverage of the disaster,” Weinheimer says. Twelve other feedyards also had issues with the flooding, but no other substantial losses were reported. Those feedyards were spared from the foot of hail. In the days following the cleanup, TCFA held several feedyard manager meetings that had been previously scheduled. “The objective of these periodic meetings is to discuss issues currently impacting the cattle business and feedyard operations, Weinheimer says. “The first order of business in the post-flood meetings was discussion of

the weather phenomenon and an update on the recovery activities of their fellow feedyard member. Managers asked questions about safety and whether they should consider increasing their insurance coverage in the event such a calamity hit them. “Managers were also asked by TCFA to utilize their contacts to secure additional resources,” Weinheimer recalls. “My phone rang for days after those meetings with offers to provide equipment, workers, food and other supplies.” Weinheimer pointed out that cattle peril insurance policies also cover losses from winter storms, tornadoes or other natural disasters.“But in the Panhandle, it normally doesn't flood,” he noted.“Since we have an average annual rainfall of 15 to 20 inches, we typically don't carry flood insurance.” Weinheimer pointed out how the community provided their services during a holiday weekend.“It’s important to remember that May 27 to 28 was Memorial Day weekend,” he says.“That didn’t make any difference to those called on to help with the recovery effort. They showed up without hesitation to help their neighbor.” One would hope such an event would never happen again. Unfortunately, freak weather events happen worldwide. Will such a 500-year storm – magnified by icebergs of hail – strike elsewhere this year, this century or beyond? We pray not.


Made with FlippingBook Digital Proposal Creator