It has been 3 weeks today since Hurricane Idalia barreled through North Florida and caused catastrophic farm damage for us and many of our neighbors. This is a unique part of Florida. Hailed as the last frontier of agriculture in this state, it is not over-crowded, over-developed, or over-modernized. It’s quiet, spacious, peaceful, and much like what old Florida used to be. With that comes old trees, old barns and old houses. Not a good combination with a CAT 4 storm knocking on our doorstep from the Gulf of Mexico.
I haven’t been able to write a blog since before the hurricane, we had no power for a week and with the loss of our workshop and barn, things have been hectic and busy around here to say the least. Most importantly though, our family is safe, our house has only minimal damage and all of our livestock and animals survived. Going through a natural disaster sure helps you put things into perspective in a hurry!
Hurricane Idalia Arrives
The storm winds started to blow early Wednesday morning, August 30th. We could see cloud bands rolling in the night before but the wind didn’t pick up until around 5 or 6am. We lost power at 7:30am, from there the conditions deteriorated rapidly.
I took a video at 8am standing at our sliding glass door in our dining room. At 9am our barn went down and the workshop followed. For the next couple of hours the boys and I sat in the bathroom praying every prayer we could that this storm would pass quickly and we would suffer no more damage. Dan stayed vigilant watching out to make sure nothing worse was coming. Our biggest fear at that point was a tornado.
At 10am I took another video and the only thing left standing was our house. It’s a surreal experience to have all your sheds and barns standing and then to go outside just a few hours later and everything is destroyed. I think we were all in shock for the first couple of hours. Like in those movies when the family walks out of the basement after a tornado and your mind is trying to comprehend everything that’s just happened.
We never experienced the eye of the hurricane. I was worried that when it finally calmed down we were in the eye but the storm never came back. After looking at the official path we figured out that we were on the edge of the eye and the eyewall was what caused so much damage for us.
Hurricane Idalia Aftermath
Once the shock wore off though, we had work to do. We had trees down on perimeter fences and the cows were in multiple fields. We were able to round them up quickly and roll out a new bale of hay to help them settle back down. Since the barn was destroyed we also had to put up a makeshift fence to keep them in. We chose to keep them in the horse field with the horses since there is a pond in there and plenty of trees for shade.
We are fortunate that we have 3 generators. When we lived off-grid in our RV we had our well hooked up to a generator so we were able to get that hooked back up and we had water by that afternoon. By the next day we had AC at night so we could at least get some sleep! The heat and humidity returns quickly after a hurricane and water, food and sleep were our priorities.
The next few days are a little bit of a blur since we were busy cleaning up the trees and branches in our yard and contacting insurance, FEMA, and the Farm Service Agency trying to figure out what was covered, what was not and what other help was available for agricultural producers.
We also had a few different friends come up with their families and help with the clean up. It was an overwhelming task and some extra people made it much more do-able and enjoyable!
Our insurance has covered our workshop and all of the house damage so we are now working on scheduling the contractors to begin that work. Sadly, our barn was not covered by insurance. We are waiting to hear back from the Farm Service Agency. We have also applied for the Florida Farm Bureau’s Relief Fund, hopefully we can get a little help!
As the clean up continues and we see others much worse off than we are, we ask for prayers for our area and the farm and ranchers that were affected by this hurricane. I also pray we never experience a direct hit of that magnitude again!