Hurricane Matthew spares Florida citrus


HURRICANE MATTHEW gave the state of Florida quite a scare during the first week of October. It held the potential to inflict great devastation on the state’s inhabitants and infrastructure. It was especially troubling to Florida’s agricultural industry, with the citrus industry having a lot to lose.

Thankfully, the storm fell to a Category 3 and essentially skirted up the east coast of Florida. The damage to agriculture and the environment was milder than it could have been.

AGRICULTURAL DAMAGE

Since the storm never made it into the interior of Florida, the Central Florida citrus region saw little to no impact from the storm. Southwest Florida also saw negligible effects. Additionally, the eye of the storm never reached shore, meaning the storm’s impact was much less than a direct hit.

Early reports for the Indian River citrus area indicated there was some damage to that area’s citrus, but reports after the storm’s passing maintain the damage was minimal. A small amount of grapefruit was knocked off trees in the region, and growers have reported scattered, but minimal, damage.

More fruit could drop in the coming weeks due to stress from the storm, but it will likely be much less than if the hurricane had hit. The storm could have easily devastated the year’s crop, which is already under stress due to citrus greening.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

While agriculture got a pass, the state’s sandy beaches weren’t so lucky. Reports maintain that Matthew caused widespread beach erosion. Many sand dunes that protect buildings and roads during storms will need to be rebuilt.

This column is sponsored by Martin Law Office.

CREDIT

column by MICHAEL MARTIN

BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida. He has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. Mike also serves as the director of the FFA Foundation and is the author of the novel, The Crestfallen Rose. To learn more, visit martinpa.com.