Agricultural Sewage Overflows into North Carolina Flood Waters Where Nearly 2 Million Chickens and Turkeys Have Died


The recent flooding from hurricane Matthew has devastated more than human homes and human lives. It has resulted in the loss of millions of agricultural livestock.

This aerial video shows how these factory farms keep animals for slaughter contained in large warehouses, with waste water lagoons containing millions of hog and bird waste.

Many farms tried to contain the waste water by building berms, but not all were successful.  This waste water has entered the flood waters from some farms, allowing harmful bacterial to spread.

flood water north carolina

A flooded hog-manure lagoon in Wayne County, North Carolina, photographed on October 11. Manure lagoons like the one in the picture often take on a grotesque purple hue, the result of microbrial changes as fecal matter breaks down. Rick Dove/Waterkeeper Alliance

Death Toll Rising

At this time the state of North Carolina reports no hog deaths, but aerial observers say the numbers might reach 10s of thousands, or even higher. The hog farmers were apparently able to move the animals to higher ground in most circumstances.

On the contrast, many bird farms were flooding with the animals trapped inside. The Governor of North Carolina confirmed the bird death toll is nearly 2 million at this time.

Mother Jones reported the death toll to be over 5 million animals.

The Response

The Governor has promised to help dispose of the dead animal carcasses quickly to avoid further water contamination.

Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart said efforts will be made to place animals in lined landfills to protect groundwater from toxins leaching from their remains.

This tragedy highlights in imbalance of modern agriculture, and creates a rally call for homesteading nation wide.

Seven Springs Hog Farm has 3 waste water lagoons underwater from Hurricane Matthew Flooding. Photo by Rick Dove/Waterkeepers Alliance

Seven Springs Hog Farm has 3 waste water lagoons underwater from Hurricane Matthew Flooding. Photo by Rick Dove/Waterkeepers Alliance

In 1999 hurricane Floyd saw millions of chickens, turkeys and hogs floating in flood waters, according to

Jeff Tietz described the agricultural devastation from Hurricane Floyd in a 2006 Rolling Stone piece “Boss Hog”:

Tens of thousands of drowned pigs were strewn across the land. Beaches located miles from Smithfield lagoons were slathered in feces. A picture taken at the time shows a shark eating a dead pig three miles off the North Carolina coast.


North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS)



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