- Hurricane Idalia caused $64 million in damages to Florida’s timber industry.
- The hurricane, despite being relatively dry, produced substantial storm surge and flooding along the Gulf Coast, causing significant damage to mature live oak trees.
- A preliminary report conducted by the University of Florida places total estimated agriculture losses to fall between $78 million and $371 million.
Florida’s timber industry suffered $64 million in damages due to Hurricane Idalia’s landfall last month, according to a report published by the state Department of Agriculture on Monday.
The assessment broke down damages into categorizations ranging from catastrophic to light, with data derived from wind speed estimates, modeling, and ground-level observations. The report evaluated six counties within Idalia’s landfall path: Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor.
Pine forests bore the brunt of the damage, with catastrophic damage impacting 1,674.27 private acres and causing the loss of 26,553 tons of timber, valued at $669,335.87. Severe damage further compounded financial losses, affecting 93,531 private acres and 2,425 public acres, resulting in the loss of 1 million tons of timber valued at $25.3 million. Moderate damage, while comparatively less severe, still impacted 75,525 private acres and 7,727.01 public acres, leading to the loss of 660,191.63 tons of timber valued at $16.6 million.
Mixed forests containing both pine and hardwood trees, as well as hardwood forests, saw total losses reach 526,485 tons of timber valued at $8.1 million and 756,243 tons valued at $11.7 million, respectively. Cypress forests were found to lose 135,985 tons of timber, valued at $2.2 million
Despite being a relatively dry storm with low precipitation, damage evaluation found that Idalia produced significant storm surge and widespread flooding along the Gulf Coast, resulting in significant damage to mature live oak trees, which are typically considered to be wind-resistant.
“For this part of the state in particular – which relies heavily on the timber industry – more than $64 million worth of damaged timber shows just how devastating Hurricane Idalia was, and this does not take into account any potential future harm or disease that could come to remaining timber stands,” said Commissioner Wilton Simpson. “Due to the decades-long investment between the time of planting to harvesting, these communities will not only need immediate support but also long-term solutions to recover.
A preliminary report conducted by the University of Florida places total estimated agriculture losses to fall between $78 million and $371 million, encompassing damaged crops, livestock, and infrastructure, including irrigation systems and fences. Livestock losses are estimated to be between $30.1 million and $123.4 million, while field and row crop losses range from $30.7 million to $93.6 million. Greenhouse and nursery products also suffered losses ranging from $4.7 million to $68.8 million.
Total estimated insured losses following Idalia’s landfall have swelled to $216.1 million, as of Monday afternoon, with varying percentages of claims closed across different lines of business.