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South Georgia farmers still picking up the pieces after Hurricane Michael

Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-10 17:30:23-04

(WTXL) — When it comes to Hurricane Michael, we can't forget the impacts the storm had on South Georgia communities, especially to farmers.

"It was a bad deal, everything was scattered, trees down, cattle out," said Caylor Ouzts, the owner and operator of Ouzts Cattle Co. "We didn't know which way to go or what to do."

For Caylor Ouzts, the day Hurricane Michael hit changed everything

,"It wasn't like it was just one place more so than the other," Ouzts explained. "All our pastures had damage in them."

Weather damage is not anything new to Ouzts, but he certainly did not expect to take the $200,000 hit he received from Hurricane Michael.

"We had tornadoes, hurricanes come by knock a building down or tear up one fence here and there but never nothing like Hurricane Michael," Ouzts said.

For some farmers the strength of Michael wiped them out. Mark Whigham's pecan and cotton crops were destroyed.

"We just pretty much gave up on last year's crop as far as harvest," said Whigham, the owner and operator of Whigham Farm. "Some of it had been blown out and it was just so hard to pick mechanically."

The Whigham farm stretches across nearly 2,000 acres. During a good season, the farm makes $750,000 from crops.

"We was hoping it wasn't going to be that bad but it turned out to be pretty extensive," Whigham explained.

A year later, both Ouzts and Whigham are left picking from what happened on that October day.

"We'll be years down the road and still seeing signs of it," said Ouzts. "This is not going to go away tomorrow, or a year later or two years later, you come back five years from now and I'll show you some damage."

With hope that another storm doesn't make its way to southwest Georgia any time soon.

"I sure hope we don't have another one," said Whigham. "I don't know if we can stand another one. I'm so tired of clean up that I don't want to see anything destroyed by weather ever again."

"It's something we will never forget," said Ouzts.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture estimates farm damages to be as high as $2.8 billion.