Being in the cross-hairs of a major hurricane sucks. Taking a beating from one sucks even worse. Fortunately, for 11-plus years, Florida has gone without having any of these tropical-spun storms of heightened consequence make landfall anywhere along the peninsula. And even after Matthew, this is still the case.
Yes, our hurricane-less streak was finally broken by Category 1 Hermine in early September, but Matthew was a whole different beast. When foreboding forecast models started to rain down from every media platform, and phrases such as: “This storm will kill you” blurted out of television speakers across the Sunshine State (we heard ya, Gov. Scott), we knew the drill: Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. By and large, that is exactly what happened. Water, supplies, and fuel were snapped up in the blink of an eye and hurricane plans were put into motion.
You (growers), too, did what was necessary not only to protect yourself and personal property, but also your farm’s crops, equipment, and structures. And even if your operation wasn’t slammed, the due diligence it took to properly batten down the hatches and then unravel all the parts and pieces to resume business as usual will prove valuable, especially when we come under the gun again — and we will.
When the rain and wind finally waned, the most popular phrases I kept hearing among friends, co-workers, and mainstream media’s talking heads included: “We were really lucky,” and “We dodged a bullet.” The same sentiments held true when I reached out to growers, researchers, and industry associations shortly after Matthew’s departure from the Sunshine State.
We were extremely fortunate that the storm’s path wobbled and most of Matthew’s wrath stayed out over the open water. However, that didn’t mean we came through without our fair share of bumps and bruises. According to reports I gathered from several sources in the field, portions of the state’s ag sector did experience impacts — some significant — from the repeated lashings of rain and wind. Check out the photo gallery above, which illustrates this fact.
Some of the effects were seen immediately. The longer-term impact might not be truly apparent for quite some time. Hopefully, we’ll luck out again in that regard.
I want to extend huge thanks to those who provided me feedback and photos to help complete my coverage before, during, and after the storm.
If you have any experiences from Matthew that you endured and/or are still going through, please send your comments my way.