Agriculture recovery efforts a year after Hurricane Michael

Agriculture recovery efforts a year after Hurricane Michael

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Oct. 10 marks one year since Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Fla., leaving behind damage and devastation to several beach communities.

The storm then made its way to Georgia. Southwest Georgia got the brunt of it, but it did impact farming and crops in the Coastal Empire.

Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture says the damage extended to different degrees across the southern part of the state. Here on the anniversary, he believes devastated growers are just days from word of relief.

“When you look down and see, literally, thousands of acres of damaged timber,” said Commissioner Gary Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Georgia’s Department of Agriculture estimates Michael’s destructive impact at $2.4 billion. Across South Georgia, it wrecked timber, flattened cotton, and topped enough pecan trees to cover 28,000 acres.

“That equated in about $300 million in loss and $300 million in generational loss,” Black said.

It will take at least a decade to get seedlings to make fruit. Black showed the president and vice president the damage, and explained that the timing could not have been worse.

“A lot of people went from a bumper crop situation to utter devastation,” he said.

He says they’ve been documenting the damage and waiting for the federal government to respond. They’re awaiting word any day on the amount of relief headed to Georgia. He says when that happens, the state will open up a website for growers to report losses, and hopefully, get relief into their hands faster than ever before.

“We’ll have the tools available to make those transactions very quickly. We don’t want people sitting around. They’ve already been sitting around months and weeks. We want to be a department that can respond in a matter of days,” Black said.

Anything to start putting the damage of Michael behind growers so they can move forward.

Commissioner Black believes the details could come next week. He says they have everything in place to distribute the relief money. They’ll get the word out for growers who suffered losses to get registered, and they’ll get that help to them as soon as possible.

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