AmericanFarm.com

South suffers worst of storm damage

By JANE W. GRAHAM
AFP Correspondent

(Oct. 13, 2015) Recent storms of historic proportion that hit South Carolina and spilled over into North Carolina are also blamed for some major agriculture damage in a handful of Virginia counties along the North Carolina border.
Tammy Goodyear with the Patrick County Farm Service Agency and a farmer herself, talked about how hard parts of her county were hit. She said they know damage is at least $2.5 million and they expect this to rise as assessment teams had not yet gotten to all the farms in the county.
Brent Noell with FSA in the New River Valley said 22 inches of rain fell at Tuggles Gap on the border between Floyd and Patrick counties.
Patrick, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties appear to have suffered the most farm damage with some spilling over into Roanoke, Floyd and Montgomery counties.
Most of the damage occurred during the Sept. 28-30 storm.
Moderate amounts of rain fell in the second round of rain in the early days of October but little damage is attributed to that storm. Everyone expressed relief that the hurricane did not hit the U.S. mainland.
Goodyear described the damage in Patrick County in a telephone interview last Wednesday.
“We had significant agriculture damage,” she said.
She noted that county had 18 to 20 inches of rain with the Woolwine and Cherokee communities suffering the most damage.
She said losses included farm land due to erosion, debris covered fields, lost crops, washed out fences, roads and buildings.
In two cases, Goodyear said, creeks cut channels under farm buildings making them unstable and in another the creek cut around a concrete bridge leading to a farm, as the creek’s course was changed.
She reported losses that included one farmer losing 200 round bales of hay, and another some spring born feeder calves.
Rotting pumpkins, molding green peppers, split tomatoes in the field, roads and bridges are on the list of losses her agency is still compiling in cooperation with other farm support agencies.
Noell told of a variety of damages in Montgomery and Floyd counties and acknowledged he did not make it to Pilot on the border of the two counties because he knew the bridge had been washed out.
He said most of the damage in Montgomery was south of the Interstate 81 corridor.
A sod farm along the South Fork of the Roanoke River had some damage, he added.
Noell said he saw a lot of washed out driveways but had not heard of a lot of agriculture damage.
He had not heard of any livestock losses as well. One pumpkin farm did report the loss of numerous pumpkins floating down the Little River.
He observed that some fences had been pushed over but not washed away.
In Pittsylvania County where 10 to 11 inches of rain fell, a bridge was lost, W.P. Johnson with FSA there said. He reported significant losses to two farmers whose tobacco crop was destroyed by the rain.
As the areas dry out and assessment teams continue their work, damage estimates are expected to be tallied and rise from first guesses.
While these counties suffered from the rainfall, areas that got significant but not huge amounts found farmers rejoicing that the abnormal rainfall they had experienced had been overcome and life giving rain had made some late pasture and caused rises in groundwater.