Tag Archive: Hurricane

Florida’s Farm Families Are Slowly Recovering from Losses Inflicted by Hurricane Irma

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam took an aerial tour to survey areas impacted by Hurricane Irma, including citrus groves in Central and Southwest Florida. Commissioner Putnam said, “It’s still too early to know the full extent of the damage to Florida citrus. But after touring groves on foot and by air, it’s clear that our signature crop has suffered serious and devastating losses from Hurricane Irma.” Source FDACS

Source:  Florida Farm Bureau

The resiliency of Florida’s farmers and ranchers is on full display in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. They are working to restore food and fiber production for this state and the nation, despite the widespread destruction of crops, buildings, fencing and other property lost to wind and water damage.

Like many other Floridians, farm families are contending with significant failures in the electric power grid. Many face weeks of rebuilding and replanting before full operations can resume.

The entire peninsula suffered major damage. The most severe overall destruction occurred in Southwest Florida. Early estimates indicate that in some areas of the primary citrus belt at least 60 percent of green fruit was knocked off the trees, raising the likelihood that the 2017-2018 crop will be much smaller than expected. Those farmers who had already planted fall vegetables, including tomatoes, report a near-total loss.

Agriculturists throughout the region and elsewhere face the general task of either repairing or restoring irrigation systems, machinery and other equipment.

Scattered assessments among ornamental plant growers indicate that many greenhouses and shade covers were are either partially standing or unusable. Some nursery owners have less than 50 percent of their plants in marketable condition.

In Hendry and Glades counties, observers have found hundreds of sugarcane plants submerged in water, buried in sediment or blown away. Palm Beach County sugarcane appears to be shredded, but farmers there say that new growth is possible and along with it, a partial harvest.

Standing water is a challenge for agricultural producers throughout the entire peninsula. Flooding has blocked access to fields and groves and limited access to beef cattle in pastures marooned by the storm. In east Florida’s Brevard County, for example, an estimated 50,000 acres of ranchland is under water, likely imposing a weight loss in calves shipped for processing.

As far north as Putnam County, west of St. Augustine, vegetable growers cannot enter fields because there is no access. Blueberry producers from south-central Florida north to Gainesville are struggling with acreage that has turned into lakes or muddy bogs.

Official economic loss totals will be available soon. Informal estimates suggest that the total agricultural cost of the storm will be in the billions. In south Florida’s Okeechobee County, for example, an informal evaluation places the local loss at a minimum of $ 16 million.

Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick expressed his grateful appreciation to farm families for their ability to survive a catastrophic hurricane and continue with their livelihoods. “Our farmers and ranchers show their true strength under the pressures of adversity,” Hoblick said. “I ask all Floridians to join me in applauding their dedication, hard work and willingness to work through very difficult circumstances so that they can continue operations that support us all.”

Hoblick called upon federal officials to provide emergency assistance to achieve full recovery.

“A farm disaster of this magnitude requires exceptional action,” Hoblick said. “Farm families need our help. I urge the Congress and the Administration to endorse immediate financial support for Florida agriculture. We appreciate all aid that you can provide during this crisis.”

Twenty-five members of Florida’s Congressional delegation have already asked Congressional leaders to appropriate adequate funding for this purpose. In a Sept. 12 letter the lawmakers wrote that “the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma throughout Florida means that Congress must again act swiftly to ensure the availability of additional funding needed for recovery efforts.”



Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/16/floridas-farm-families-are-slowly-recovering-from-losses-inflicted-by-hurricane-irma/

Protecting Fall Vegetable Crops after the Hurricane

Protecting Fall Vegetable Crops after the Hurricane

Figure 1: Rain and leaf wetness exacerbate bacterial spot and can lead to complete blighting or defoliation of the plant. Credit: Josh Freeman

As if the fall season wasn’t challenging enough from a pest and disease perspective, throw in a hurricane and it gets much worse. Luckily, the storm missed most of the Panhandle. Tomato and cucurbit producing areas in Gadsden and Jackson counties likely saw the greatest impacts from Hurricane Irma. The biggest problem was the wind and wind driven rain. It doesn’t take much rain when you’ve got 40-60 mph winds to drive that water into leaves. This factor combined with the plants getting beaten around can create quite a bit of leaf damage. These damaged areas can be just the foothold that some plant diseases need to get started in a big way. The first thing we noticed was bacterial spot of tomato moved into most fields, and in fields where it was already established, it moved up the plant. This is a pretty common progression with this disease; yellowing begins in the lowest leaves near the ground, and it progressively marches up through the canopy. Rain and leaf wetness exacerbate bacterial spot and can lead to complete blighting or defoliation of the plant (Figure 1).

The other major pathogen of concern for the fall is target spot, a fungal disease that typically shows up later in the season when the weather cools off some. Target spot also has the potential to get started in leaf tissue damaged by the wind and rain from Hurricane Irma. Producers should stay on a tight spray schedule, especially in fields that have more damaged foliage from the storm. A link to UF/IFAS tomato production recommendations is provided at the end of this article.

If you haven’t noticed the whiteflies yet, then you haven’t been outside since about July. And it’s not just in and around vegetable crops, they’re everywhere. I had a psychic moment and was concerned about them in April (seeStart Preparing Now for Whiteflies this Fall in Vegetable Crops) and my premonitions have certainly played out. Whitefly populations have been exceptionally high since producers started setting fall plants. Most tomato and cucurbit seedlings had whiteflies on them within hours of planting (Figures 2&3) which means they will need to be managed for 90 days or so.

Figure 2. Tomato seedling plagued by whiteflies shortly after planting. Photo by Josh Freeman.

Figure 3. Cucurbit seedling plagued by whiteflies shortly after planting. Photo by Josh Freeman.

For tomato producers the two major concerns are Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) (Figure 4) which is transmitted by whiteflies, and irregular fruit ripening (Figure 5) which is caused by whitefly feeding. TYLCV is already bad and it is still a long way to harvest. Unfortunately when plants are infected with TYCLV early they essentially stop growing and likely won’t produce any fruit. We have fields locally that have 40% infection with another 30 days before harvest.

Figure 4. Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV). Photo by Josh Freeman

Figure 5. Irregular fruit ripening caused by the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV). Photo by Josh Freeman.

There are several links below to information about whitefly management. It is very important to rotate pesticide modes of action. It is tempting to rely heavily on neonicotinoids, but if we want to maintain these chemistries for the future, alternative modes of action should be used. We have wondered for the last several years whether TYLCV will become established and be a consistent problem in North Florida and South Georgia, and as of now it appears that during the fall it will be. If we continue to have mild winters it is likely that high whitefly populations may become normal during the fall, and it will be recommended that tomato growers rely heavily on TYLCV resistant varieties. These varieties are listed in the tomato production guide below.

Whiteflies also pose a serious problem for cucurbit and bean producers. Much like tomato, they transmit viruses, Cucurbit Leaf Crumple Virus and Bean Golden Yellow Mosaic Virus.  Whiteflies cause fruit quality issues such as light colored beans or squash from feeding damage. The other major pathogen to be on the lookout for is Downy Mildew. This generally comes on when conditions cool off, enabling the fungus to rapidly move through fields, especially when we get persistent foggy mornings that keep leaves wet for multiple hours. A link to the cucurbit production guide is also below.

In summary, take action, now. These pests and pathogens were likely already present in most fields, and their progression may have been hastened by Hurricane Irma. It is critical when using chemical control options for all the pests and pathogens listed above that  modes of action are rotated. These codes are listed in their respective production guides as well as on the pesticide labels. Chemical control options are generally limited, so it is important that we are good stewards of the tools that we do have.

UF/IFAS Publications and Resources referenced in this article:




Author: Josh Freeman – joshuafr@ufl.edu

Dr. Freeman’s program focuses on vegetable and melon cropping systems important to the state and region. Much of his research and extension efforts are focused in the area of soil fumigants and fumigant alternatives for soil-borne pest and weed management. Many of the vegetable crops in Florida are produced using the plasticulture production system. For decades growers have relied on the soil fumigant methyl bromide for pest management. This chemistry is no longer available and Dr. Freeman’s program is addressing this issue.

Josh Freeman

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/15/protecting-fall-vegetable-crops-after-the-hurricane/

Friday Feature: Hurricane Irma’s Impact on the Florida Citrus Industry Video

Friday Feature:  Hurricane Irma’s Impact on the Florida Citrus Industry Video

Citrus trees in Hendry County destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Credit: Gene McAvoy

This week’s featured video was a CBS News report on the damage from Hurricane Irma to Citrus in Southwest Florida.  The story features Paul Meador, Citrus Grower and Gene McAvoy, UF/IFAS Regional Vegetable Agent, who were out earlier this week assessing damage to crops and citrus in Hendry County.  McAvoy estimates there were more than $ 2 billion dollars in damages in Southwest Florida where the eye-wall of Hurricane Irma churned up groves, ranches, and vegetable farms.



If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across a humorous video or interesting story related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo


Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/15/friday-feature-hurricane-irmas-impact-on-the-florida-citrus-industry-video/

Hurricane Preparation in the Landscape

Hurricane Preparation in the Landscape

Trees are often among the first victims of hurricane-force winds. Photo credit: Mary Duryea, University of Florida.

Well, it is the peak of hurricane season (June 1-November 30), and this one is proving to be no joke. After having all summer to heat up, Gulf and Atlantic water temperatures peak in late August-mid September, feeding storms’ strength. Legendary hurricanes like Harvey, Katrina, and Andrew all made landfall during this time of year. The models for Irma show likely impacts in Florida, and due to its extreme size, most of the state is in line to endure heavy rain and wind regardless of location.

From a landscaping perspective, hurricanes can be truly disastrous. I will never forget returning home after evacuating from Hurricane Ivan and realizing all the leaves had been blown from nearly every tree in town. Mid-September suddenly looked like the dead of winter. A Category 3 storm when it landed near the southwest corner of Escambia County, Ivan was responsible for a 40% loss of tree canopy in our county.

Even if the Panhandle is not directly impacted by a storm, it is always smart to prepare. Research conducted by University of Florida arborists and horticultural specialists have yielded some practical suggestions.

To evaluate trees for potential hazards;

  • Know your tree species and whether they are prone to decay or wind damage (more below).
  • Look for root or branch rot—usually indicated by very dark spots on the bark.
  • Tree structure—is there a single, dominant central trunk? Are branches attached to the trunk in a U-shape (strong) or V-shape (weak)?
  • Smart pruning—never “top” (cut the tops from trees) but instead prune crowded limbs and remove limbs that are dead, dying, or hanging above power lines.

As for species selection, keep in mind that pines generally do not perform well in gale-force winds. Longleaf pines are quite strong, but common slash pines often snap or lean in storms. Even if a pine tree survives, it can be vulnerable to damage or death from pine bark beetles. It is wise to monitor pines for up to 2 years after a storm.

In addition, a survey conducted throughout the southeastern United States after hurricanes from 1992-2005 yielded important information on the most (and least) wind-resistant tree species. Live oaks and Southern magnolias topped the list, while pecans and cherry laurels performed poorly. This full, user-friendly report from the study is a useful tool.

For more hurricane preparedness information, visit the UF IFAS Extension Disaster Manual online or contact your local Extension office or Emergency Management agency.




Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/09/hurricane-preparation-in-the-landscape/

Hurricane Preparation for Your Farm

Hurricane Preparation for Your Farm

Farmers in Florida worry every fall about potential damage from a hurricane.  Most of the media attention focuses on families in coastal communities, but not as much attention is provided for farmers and ranchers. Emergency responders are also likely to target their efforts immediately after the storm comes ashore on coastal areas hardest hit by storms.  Every farm and ranch in Florida must have an emergency plan for the impact of a hurricane.  The main thing is to prepare to be self sufficient for a more than a week.  The following are ideas that may prove helpful as a checklist to prepare ahead of a major storm.

Resource People

After a major storm large areas in the path are in chaos.  It is important to have a good list of current contact information for important people.  While most of us rely on the phone numbers loaded on a smart phone to do our daily business, it is a good idea to develop a printed list, just in case your cell phone becomes damaged.  Make sure you have current phone numbers for:

  • Extended family – Everyone will want to know you are ok after the storm, and you will want to do the same.
  • Employees and their families – it is good to be able to
  • Veterinarian – not just the office number but a cell phone number as well
  • Neighbors – in rural areas neighbors helping neighbors are the first responders
  • Farm Service Agency Office Damages should be reported within 15 days after the storm.
  • Insurance provider
  • Utility Company – Report downed power lines and power outages so your farm can be added to their response list.
  • County Extension Offices– Agricultural Extension Agents serve as the ESF 17 Coordinators for each county emergency team.  It is their role to assist farm and livestock owners after the storm.  Extension Agents are also part of the State Agriculture Response Team lead by the Florida Department of Agriculture, so they are your local contact in each county for assistance for farms and livestock owners following a disaster.

Loss of Power

At the very least, farmers in rural areas can expect power outages following a hurricane. In rural areas, power may not be restored for 1-2 weeks. This can cause some real problems for farmers.

  • Order fuel to top off farm fuel tanks for tractors and equipment.  Fuel deliveries may be disrupted following the storm.
  • Purchase batteries for flashlights and lanterns.  Have enough flashlights ready for each employee.
  • Stock up on feed for animals receiving supplemental feeds.  Don’t forget the cats and dog food.  Have enough hay, feed and health care supplies on hand for 1-2 weeks. Feed stores may not be open for business for a week or more after a storm.
  • Move animals to pastures with ponds so well filled water troughs are not the only source of water.
  • Dairy farms should have enough generator power so that cows can be milked each day.
  • For operations that rely on electric fencing, have a generator ready to keep the fence hot, or at least move animals to interior pastures so they have multiple fences to help keep them in.

High Winds

Coastal areas normally receive the highest winds as a hurricane comes ashore, but even 50-70 mile per hour winds can create some real problems for livestock producers. Barns and fences are very susceptible to fallen trees and limbs from even tropical storm force winds. Tornadoes are also common in rural areas as storms move through.

  • Make sure chainsaws are in good working order and stock up on mixed fuel.
  • Locate chains and come-a-long for limb and tree movement off of fences and buildings.
  • Stock up on fence repair materials:  wire, posts, and staples for repairing fences damaged by limbs and trees.
  • Move animals and valuable equipment out of barns. Most agricultural barns are not made to withstand more than 75-100 mile per hour winds with out some damage. Metal roofing material falling and flying around can be deadly. Normally open fields or pastures are much safer for both animals and equipment. Animals out in the open have a way of avoiding danger most of the time.
  • Move animals to interior pastures so there are multiple fences between animals and the highway or neighbors.
  • Identify cattle and horses so that if they do wander out of your property, you can be notified of their whereabouts. Halters or collars and luggage tags can be used for horses. If nothing else is available, spray paint your name and phone number on cattle or horses, so they can be returned to you following a storm.  Do not include Coggins number on any identification, because that would allow the animal to be sold at auction.
  • Pick up debris that might become high-wind hazards. Strap down feeders, trailers and other items that might blow around and injure animals or cause damage to facilities.

    Be prepared to remove and clean up broken limbs and uprooted trees on cowpens, fences and buildings following a storm. Photo credit Doug Mayo


Tropical storms and hurricanes can generate 3-15 inches of rain in just a few hours.

  • Move tractors, equipment, hay, or other stored items to highest ground.
  • Move animals out of low lying pastures, or at least tie the gates open so they can move to higher ground if need be.
  • Have enough hay on hand to feed for two weeks in case grass runs short from low areas being flooded.
  • Make sure drainage ditches are clean without blockage.

    Photo credit: USDA Archive

Clean Up and Damage Assessment

Notification and documentation are the keys to getting financial aid following a major storm.

  • Beware of downed power lines. Treat them as if they are charged even if they are damaged or knocked down tree limbs. If you drive up near a downed power line, stay in your vehicle, and contact emergency personnel or the utility company.
  • Contact insurance agencies as soon as possible after the storm passes for buildings that are insured.
  • Report major damage to the local Farm Service Agency within 15 days of the storm to be eligible for federal disaster aid.
  • Document damage and repair expenses. Photographs of damages and receipts for services and materials will be very important when applying for insurance claims and federal disaster aid. Any purchased feed, supplies or veterinary expenses related to storm damage should be recorded as well.

    Equipment shed in Hardee County destroyed by at tornado associated with Hurricane Charley in 2004. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

Other Resources available to aid with Farm Disaster Preparedness and Recovery


Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/07/hurricane-preparation-for-your-farm/

With Hurricane Season Approaching, Are You Prepared for an Evacuation?

Hurricane season begins this year on June 1st and ends November 30th. As Floridians, we face the possibility of hurricanes each year. This simply goes with the territory. During these months, it’s important to plan for the threat of a hurricane, and at the same time hope, it never happens.

First and foremost, you may be asked to leave your home in emergency conditions. Emergency management officials would not ask you to do so without a valid reason. Please do not second guess this request. Leave your home immediately. Requests of this magnitude will normally come through radio broadcasts and area TV stations.

Figure 1. UF/IFAS Disaster Handbook.

Credit. UF/IFAS Communications.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to have your own, up to date plan for a possible evacuation. The University of Florida has developed, “The Disaster Handbook” to help citizens plan for safety. The handbook includes a chapter dedicated to hurricane planning. The chapter can be downloaded in pdf at http://disaster.ifas.ufl.edu/chap7fr.htm.

Utilizing the 15 principles below will assist you in your evacuation planning efforts:

  1. Know the route & directions: keep a paper state map in your vehicle. Be prepared to use the routes designated by the emergency management officials.
  2. Local authorities will guide the public: Stay in communication with local your local emergency management officials. By following their instructions, you are far safer.
  3. Keep a full gas tank in your vehicle: During a hurricane threat, gas can become sparse. Be sure you fill your tank in advance of the storm.
  4. One vehicle per household: If evacuation is necessary, take one vehicle. Families that carpool will reduce congestion on evacuation routes.
  5. Powerlines: Do not go near powerlines, especially if broken or down.
  6. Clothing: Wear clothing that protects as much area as possible, but suitable for walking in the elements.
  7. Disaster Kit: Create a kit complete with a battery powered NOAA weather radio, extra batteries, food, water, clothing and first aid kit. The kit should have enough supplies for at least three days.
  8. Phone: Bring your cell phone & charger.
  9. Prepare your home before leaving: Lock all windows & doors. Turn off water. You may want to turn off your electricity. If you have a home freezer, you may wish not too. Leave your natural gas on, unless instructed to turn it off. You may need gas for heating or cooking and only a professional can turn it on once it has been turned off.
  10. Family Communications: Contact family and friends before leaving town, if possible. Have an out of town contact as well, to check in with regarding the storm and safety options.
  11. Emergency shelters: Know where the emergency shelters are located in your vicinity.
  12. Shelter in place: This measure is in place for the event that emergency management officials request that you remain in your home or office. Close and lock all window and exterior doors. Turn off all fans and the HVAC system. Close the fireplace damper. Open your disaster kit and make sure the NOAA weather radio is on. Go to an interior room without windows that is ground level. Keep listening to your radio or TV for updates.
  13. Predetermined meeting place: Have a spot designated for a family meeting before the imminent evacuation. This will help minimize anxiety and confusion and will save time.
  14. Children at school: Have a plan for picking up children from school and how they will be taken care of and by whom.
  15. Animals and pets: Have a plan for caring for animals and shelter options in the event of an evacuation. For livestock, contact your local county extension office.

Following these steps will help you stay safe and give you a piece of mind, during hurricane season. Contact your local county extension office for more information.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publication, “Hurricane Preparation: Evacuating Your Home”, by Elizabeth Bolton & Muthusami Kumaran: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY74700.pdf

UF/IFAS Extension is An Equal Opportunity Institution.


Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture & Natural Resource, Horticulture, Sea Grant

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/21/with-hurricane-season-approaching-are-you-prepared-for-an-evacuation/

August Weather Summary, Hurricane Hermine, & September Outlook

Rainfall estimates for August 2016 from the National Weather Service.

Rainfall estimates for August 2016 from the National Weather Service.

For much of the Panhandle August was an improvement over July with more adequate rainfall scattered across the region.  Portions of the coastal counties received over 10″ (hot pink), while there were a number of inland pockets that received less than 4″ (tan).  Most of the region’s rainfall ranged from 5-8″ for the month, based on National Weather Service estimates.

Rainfrall data collected at 6 FAWN stations across the Panhandle. The data collected at the six Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) stations also show the variation in rainfall in the Panhandle for the month of August.  After three straight months of below average rainfall, the Carrabelle station recorded 11.3″ of rain in August 2016.  In contrast, less than 4″ of rainfall was recorded in Monticello and Jay. The six station average was 6.7″ for the month of August.   For the year, Marianna has been the driest location with less than 37″, while the DeFuniak station has recorded a total of almost 48″.  The six station average through 8 months was 42.8″.

16 Aug Marianna FAWN SummaryTemperatures cooled only slightly in August as compared to July.  The average air temperature cooled only one degree from 81 to 80, and the average soil temperature fell two degrees from 89 to 87.  For specific daily temperature and rainfall data, download:  2016 Jan-Aug FAWN Weather Summary

8-30-16 SE Drought MonitorHurricane Hermine

Hurricane Hermine certainly got everyone’s attention in the Panhandle and South Georgia this week as it grew stronger moving through the Gulf.  Damage reports are still coming in from the coastal communities hit hardest by storm surge, power outages, and high winds.  There is a silver lining to this storm, however.  The graphic above is the Drought Monitor for the Southeast on Tuesday, August 30 before the storm came ashore.  As you can see much of Georgia and South Carolina were in real need of rainfall.

NWS estaimates of rainfall totals for the past 48 hours at 2:00 PM Eastern time 9/2/16

NWS estimates of rainfall totals for the past 48 hours at 2:00 PM Eastern time 9/2/16

The graphic above is the estimated rainfall totals from the past 48 hours.  Interestingly the rainfall total was higher in Tampa and Cedar Key than in Jefferson and Taylor Counties, where the eye of the storm made landfall.  The other thing that is truly remarkable was the High-Pressure wall that guided this huge spinning top of a storm.  You can clearly see how the storm was pushed eastward on a pretty distinct line.

September Outlook

Climate Prediction Center Sept 16 OutlookThe month ahead was expected to be hotter and dryer than normal.  The climate Prediction Center actually changed their outlook this week to show Hurricane Hermine’s influence, so the eastern Panhandle is expected to end the month above average.  As peanut and cotton harvest is not far off, it does appear as if farmers will have better weather conditions than last year at harvest.  But that will depend greatly on whether tropical systems emerge in the Gulf from now through November.



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/03/august-weather-summary-hurricane-hermine-september-outlook/

Hurricane Season Is Upon Us Again… Time to Prepare

Hurricane Season Is Upon Us Again… Time to Prepare

The beginning of hurricane season—June 1—is very nearly upon us. It’s been more than ten years since northwest Florida was on the receiving end of a destructive hurricane. However, we’ve been no strangers to devastating floods, tornadoes, and even an ice storm over the past few years. No matter what natural disaster lurks around the next corner, there are steps every single resident can take to reduce the impact storms have on your family and property.

Aluminum shutters are one of the many preventative measures panhandle homeowners can include in their hurricane preparedness. Photo: Carrie Stevenson

Aluminum shutters are one of the many preventative measures panhandle homeowners can include in their hurricane preparedness.
Photo: Carrie Stevenson

The week of May 15-21 has been designated “Hurricane Preparedness Week,” and there will be lots of information in the media about the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, including preparation checklists and mock hurricane drills. As part of the effort led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), we will be sending out daily reminders and tips over Extension social media outlets during Hurricane Preparedness Week to remind readers of practical tips for preparing.

The main thrust of the message is fivefold: Know your evacuation zone http://flash.org/hurricane-season/ ; have an insurance checkup http://www.flash.org/homeownersinsuranceguide/ ; build a disaster supply kit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit ; strengthen your home http://www.rebuildnwf.org/ ; and help your neighbor http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams .

In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, residents can contact Rebuild Northwest Florida http://www.rebuildnwf.org/ to learn how to mitigate windstorm damage at a quarter of the actual cost. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is available in many communities, which builds teams of neighborhood leaders to help with immediate response before professional emergency personnel can arrive.

It is easy to be complacent when we haven’t had a big hurricane in a while. However, it’s important—especially for newcomers to the area—to be educated about your options and make a plan in case it’s ever needed.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out NOAA’s information at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/hurricane_preparedness.html or the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) website http://hurricanestrong.org


Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/08/hurricane-season-is-upon-us-again-time-to-prepare/

Tree Care in Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season began June 1. While storm experts are predicting a slower year due to El Nino conditions, it only takes a single storm landing nearby to cause millions in damage, uprooting trees and lives.

Tree damage to homes and property can be devastating, and one of the first instincts of many homeowners when they see a big storm in the Gulf is to start trimming limbs and removing trees.  However, it is wise to fully evaluate one’s landscape before making an irreversible decision. Trees are crucial for providing shade (i.e. energy savings), wildlife habitat, stormwater management, and maintaining property values.

Downed trees in a row along a hurricane-devastated street. Photo Credit: Mary Duryea, University of Florida

Downed trees in a row along a hurricane-devastated street. Photo Credit: Mary Duryea, University of Florida

University of Florida researchers Mary Duryea and Eliana Kampf have done extensive studies on the effects of wind on trees and landscapes, and several important lessons stand out.  Keep in mind that reducing storm damage often starts at the landscape design/planning stage!

  • Select the right plant for the right place.
  • Post-hurricane studies in north Florida show that live oak, southern magnolia, sabal palms, and bald cypress stand up well compared to other trees during hurricanes.  Pecan, water and laurel oaks, Carolina cherry laurel and sand pine were among the least wind resistant.
  • Plant high-quality trees with strong central trunks and balanced branch structure.
  • Longleaf pine often survived storms in our area better than other pine species, but monitor pines carefully. Sometimes there is hidden damage and the tree declines over time. Look for signs of stress or poor health, and check closely for insects. Weakened pines may be more susceptible to beetles and diseases.
  • Remove hazard trees before the wind does. Have a certified arborist inspect your trees for signs of disease and decay. They are trained to advise you on tree health.
  • Trees in a group (at least five) blow down less frequently than single trees.
  • Trees should always be given ample room for roots to grow.  Roots absorb nutrients, but they are also the anchors for the tree. If large trees are planted where there is limited or restricted area for roots to grow out in all directions, there is a likelihood that the tree may fall during high winds.
  • Construction activities within about 20 feet from the trunk of existing trees can cause the tree to blow over more than a decade later.
  • Plant a variety of species, ages and layers of trees and shrubs to maintain diversity in your community
  • When a tree fails, plant a new one in its place.



Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/06/03/tree-care-in-hurricane-season/

Be Prepared. Be Ready. Stay Safe: National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2014

Emergency Preparedness SuppliesMay 25 – 31, 2014 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

This week is a good time to prepare your family, property, and pets for severe weather situations. The dangers of a hurricane are numerous:  heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and in our coastal areas, high tide and rip currents. UF/IFAS Extension has information to help you prepare for the season.

1. Create a plan for your family.  Where can your family go in case of an evacuation? Do you plan to stay put and hunker down until the storm passes? Is your house “secure” enough to sustain high winds?

2. Organize your important papers.  When it comes to preparing for weather emergencies, knowing where your important documents are is as important as having a plan for your family. Having all your documents up-to-date, accessible, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time.

3. Check your insurance.  Will any of the policies you hold pay for temporary shelter, replacement clothing, furniture, or other items if you are affected by a hurricane? Are floods covered in the policy? What is the amount of your hurricane deductible?  Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Florida Disaster Recovery website for more information. Find out whether you can flood-proof your home now.

4. Plan for your pets. Include the welfare of your pets in your plan. Many public shelters do not allow pets so make arrangements to board your animals. Keep ID tags and vaccinations up to date. Prepare a pet evacuation kit, including food and water for one week, a manual can opener, medications, medical/vaccination records, a pet carrier, and bedding. Planning can help ensure safety for you and your pets during a weather emergency.

Bookmarks for more information:

If a hurricane affects you this year, return to this website for tips on recovery and information about your rights.



Author: Elizabeth – gorimani@ufl.edu

FCS faculty with University of Florida/IFAS Extension in Gadsden County


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/05/28/be-prepared-be-ready-stay-safe-national-hurricane-preparedness-week-2014/

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