Storm ravages timber, crops
By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
That was County Agent Buck Farrior's take on the state of timber in Escambia County in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. "There are large areas where trees are snapped off 15 feet high and trees laying on one another," he said.
Farrior said that clean up of downed timber could be a problem because FEMA will be contracting local logging crews for debris clean up on roads throughout the county.
And if all of this downed timber is cleaned up, there will be an influx into the market. "There's no way they can utilize it all at one time," Farrior said.
One method for preserving damaged timber before it is marketed is to create "log beds," an area in which to store the logs under sprinklers and lengethen their storage time. Farrior said that T.R. Miller Mill created log beds after Hurricane Opal, and a facility in Atmore is considering the logistics of doing it now.
Livestock producers in this county have also seen a drastic change in how they raise cattle since Ivan.
For cotton producers, things don't look much better. Farrior conducted boll counts in some of the better fields in Robinsonville near Atmore and estimated a yeild of 250 pounds when typical yields would be about 800 pounds. Another problem at harvest time will be damaged bolls that have opened prematurely, producing a very low grade of cotton.
After harvest, both cotton and soybean producers could find themselves in "traffic jams" thanks to damage to area gins and grain bins.
Peanut producers in the county should be relieved because their crops were largely unaffected. Farrior said that damages were seen mostly in peanut crops that had been dug up right before the storm hit. He said that growers are now working to quickly get those crops to market, but again, they may experience bottlenecks as buying stations in both Atmore and Jay were damaged by the storm.
Producers are eligible for assistance from FEMA for damage to their homes and personal property.
Loans up to $500,000 to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence, may be also available. Contact your local Farm Service Agency.
Farrior suggests that prodecers register with FEMA as soon as possible to be notified of what assistance becomes available to them.
To register, call 1-800-621-FEMA. The hotline is open 24 hours a day and is less busy late at night and early in the morning.
Also, FEMA has set up a Disaster Recovery Center in the Ag Science Building off of Highway 31. The Center is staffed with people who can offer advice in recovering from damages to crops, businesses and homes.