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One day at a time: Georgia farmers processing, trying to move forward after Michael

Local Georgia farmers processing, trying to move forward after Michael
Local Georgia farmers processing, trying to move forward after Michael
Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 09, 2018
and last updated 2019-10-02 15:52:44-04

CAMILLA, Ga. (WTXL) - Saturday marks one month since Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia.   

Georgia may be the "Peach State," but the southwest region is also known for pecans and peanuts, and many farmers grow cotton and a number of vegetables, that is, until Hurricane Michael hit. 

"This year, we were set to have a record yield with cotton and most all crops. It was great growing conditions this summer with very little disease or weed pressure," said Brian Hayes, an Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent in Mitchell County. "Farmers were set to make a lot of money to kind of dig out of a hole we had last year. Last year we had a little insect called white flies that devastated the cotton crop." 

But after Hurricane Michael, the projected record crops are no longer a possibility. Farmers at Longleaf Ridge are still processing how much of their crops were lost, but the cost to rebuild is already daunting as part of their irrigation system is overturned. 

"Most systems that look like this that are completely overturned, there's no way to actually fix them. We're going to have to actually replace the system," said Casey Cox, Mitchell County Farmer at Longleaf Ridge. "That's a huge expense that we of course weren't accounting for at the beginning of the season." 

The farm also lost pecan and pine trees that were planted generations ago. It's possible that some of the trees could be salvaged, but Cox will be selling the timber for a fraction of what it's worth. 

"So much timber was blown down in Florida and Georgia that there's too much demand on loggers and the whole timber industry right now. Some people have it as a retirement plan," said Cox. "When you lose a significant amount of that, it has really generational impacts because there are trees that we lost that will never look the same in our lifetime." 

"It'll take 10 years or more to recover from this. The pecan guys, it'll be a generation before they fully recover," said Hayes.

As for Cox, her family, and those who work on the farm with her, they are just focusing on 'tomorrow.' 

"We know that time has impacted our lives at the current moment and will impact our lives in the future, but we're taking it one day at a time," said Cox. "We're doing everything we can to get back to some sense of normal, or a new normal."