Sep 5, 2023
Georgia updates Hurricane Idalia damage

Hurricane Idalia damaged south Georgia crops.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) has released information on how the hurricane and tropical storm, which made landfall in the Big Bend area of Florida before quickly rolling through the southern part of Georgia on Aug. 30, damaged some of the state’s fall crops, including pecans.

The storm brought hurricane and tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall across much of south Georgia, according to a GDA update on Hurricane Idalia response and damage assessments.

“The Department of Agriculture has already begun to receive reports of damage to crops, pecan trees, agricultural operations and infrastructure, and other GDA regulated entities across South Georgia,” GDA reported on Sept. 1. “GDA staff is continuing to survey and assess the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia and is beginning the recovery process.”

In initial damage assessments and response, it is still early in the assessment process. GDA summarized observed and reported damage. It will likely take weeks, if not months, to understand the full scope of the damage, according to the release.

In crops and agricultural operations/facilities, GDA reported multiple reports of downed pecan trees throughout the impacted area of Pierce, Echols, Lowndes, Cook, Brooks, Wilcox, Irwin, Ben Hill, and Crisp Counties.

Some produce damage was reported with plastic torn and ripped up in some areas. Sweet corn was reported laying in the field. There are reports of irrigation pivots twisted and/or toppled. Hay barns, sheds, and other agricultural facilities were reported as mangled or blown down.

“As a 7th generation farmer, I know firsthand the devastating impacts severe weather can have not only on our farmers and producers, but on rural communities, local economies, and our state’s economy as a whole,” Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper said in a news release.
“Since Monday, we’ve been onsite at the State Operations Center monitoring Hurricane Idalia, and our team and I are on the ground in South Georgia assessing the damage and speaking directly with impacted farmers, producers, and business owners. We are working overtime, in coordination with our state and federal partners, to ensure farmers, producers, and other GDA licensed operations impacted by Idalia have the resources they need to recover and bounce back stronger than before.”

In GDA facilities, the Valdosta State Farmer’s Market sustained roof damage with Idalia causing a power outage at the Savannah State Farmer’s Market.

Across multiple divisions and programs, the GDA licenses and regulates approximately 13,000 businesses located in the area impacted by Hurricane Idalia. These include the Food Safety Division, Food & Feed Rapid Response Team (RRT), State Agriculture Response Team (SART), Retail Food Program and the Agricultural Inputs Division.

The divisions and their staff will continue to work overtime to assess damage caused by Hurricane Idalia and provide recovery assistance to Georgia farmers and GDA licensed entities that have been impacted, according to the release. “Department staff are taking a risk-based approach, starting with businesses and operations in areas that experienced the most severe winds and flooding and working outwards,” according to the release. “The Department will continue to work with farmers and business owners on the ground, industry leaders, and UGA Extension, as well state and federal leadership to ensure the needs over every Georgian are met and that they have the resources needed to recover.”

Growers who experience losses and/or damages due to the hurricane are being advised to contact the Farm Service Agency hotline at 877-508-8364 or send an email to the FSA disaster group inbox at [email protected]. More information is available here.

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