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home : state news : e-state news October 16, 2018

9/27/2018 8:22:00 AM
Agriculture May Be Biggest Loss from Florence
Photos Courtesy NC Department of Agriculture
Photos Courtesy NC Department of Agriculture

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

Florence left much of eastern North Carolina and South Carolina underwater.  The flooding caused by the deluge of rain isn't over yet.  In Georgetown, the effects weren't immediate, but that South Carolina town is expecting two feet of water in its downtown area this weekend.  Other areas are still flooded and it will take years for many locations to get over the damage from the flood.

In addition to the damage to homes, businesses, infrastructure, etc., one of the big losses caused by Florence was the loss of crops.

According to the NC Dept. of Agriculture, initial estimates for crop damage and livestock losses to North Carolina’s agriculture industry are expected to be over $1.1 billion. That number easily tops the $400 million seen following Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agricultural counties especially hard,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry.”

Following are estimates by crops:

Row crop losses are estimated at $986.6 million

Forestry losses are estimated at $69.6 million

Green industry losses are estimated at $30 million

Vegetable and horticulture crop losses are estimated at $26.8 million

Livestock, poultry and aquaculture losses are estimated at $23.1 million

Crops that were left in fields after the flood waters subsided have been deemed unfit for consumption.  Others got washed away.  Livestock was lost in the flood. Livestock losses are an estimated 4.1 million poultry and 5,500 hogs.

The estimates were based on the percentage of crops still in the field in the 35 most highly impacted counties. The calculations also looked at a five-year average for crop production and the prices of commodities. Assessment information from the department’s regional agronomists, NC State University agents and specialists, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and commodity associations were used to develop estimates.

While the damage to counties near us wasn't nearly as bad, roads and bridges sustained considerable damage in Union and Stanly counties, and there were localized damage problems in our area, but nothing compared to what the hardest hit areas faced and are continuing to face.  For them, Florence isn't over yet.  Having survived the worst, they will now have to endure a long recovery.

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