Coastal regions on the U.S. Atlantic seaboard are bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irene, which began as a series of tropical storms detected around August 20. By August 21, the storm had made landfall at hurricane strength near Puerto Rico, and passed through the Caribbean doing significant monetary damage.
The storm reached the U.S. Southeast by August 27. While it avoided most of Florida, it touched down in North Carolina, passed through Virginia, and is current moving through the Middle Atlantic, having briefly touched down in New Jersey and New York.
While the full impact of Irene cannot yet be calculated, it has the potential to inflict significant damage to agriculture in the Southeast.
Before Irene even touched down, agriculture had suffered as a result of the storm. In North Carolina, evacuation orders forced farmers off of their lands right as the last of the seasonal crops are being harvested. Many farmers scrambled, trying to harvest as much as they could before they were forced to evacuate.
In addition to evacuation orders, Irene’s path has been estimated to cut through some of North Carolina’s best farmland. The coastal region generates about $6 billion in farm incomes (about 2/3 of all agricultural activity in the state) according to the most recent information. Disruption or damage to these regions could result in significant financial losses for a state already hit by drought.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer