DTN/The Progressive Farmer freelance writer Becky Mills was watching reports about Hurricane Michael as it approached the Florida Panhandle last October. “After a number of false alarms, my husband, Scotty Lovett, and I had gotten pretty complacent about storms. Besides, we’re in Randolph County, in Southwest Georgia, 130 miles from the coast. How bad could it be?”
By 5 p.m. on Oct. 10, they knew. “The wind was blowing so hard it was forcing the rain through the windows of our 100-year-old farmhouse. By 8 p.m., we lost power.” When Lovett walked out the next morning, he saw pecan trees littering the yard and the pasture beside the house. And, there was more.
Lovett farms with his brother, Bob, and Bob’s son, Graham. As the three and an employee checked livestock, fencing and trees over a two-county area, the costs mounted. A power company truck killed one calf and fallen trees crushed two cows. Up to 30 miles of fences were damaged or destroyed. They lost 50 to 70% of their timber over 1,000 acres.
As it crossed Florida, Alabama and Georgia, Michael caused at least $3 billion in ag damages. The Georgia Forestry Commission put timber losses at $762 million. Georgia cotton losses were put at $550 million.
“[Still] we were blessed,” Lovett says. “We have friends who were hit a lot harder.” And, friends came to help. “Vouchers for everything from fencing supplies to seed stock have been showing up in the mailbox. Friends from South Carolina to Florida have offered to come and run a chain saw. It gave me a new appreciation for what others have been through. You don’t understand until you’ve been through it yourself.”
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