The chicken coops are gone. The trees are horizontal. The farm acreage has turned into lakes in spots.
Aerial footage provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by the Georgia Department of Agriculture shows the devastating footprint Hurricane Michael left in the southwest part of the state.
The storm slammed into the Florida Panhandle at Category 4 strength. Although it had weakened to tropical storm strength during its soggy march through Georgia, storm damage to farmers is expected to top $1 billion.
“Our worst dreams are being realized,” said Georgia Agriculture Secretary Gary Black. “There’s going to be a lot of work to do.”
The storm pounded southwest Georgia with winds of 115 miles per hour and battered a wide swath of the state’s midsection.
Black spoke with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor, and Vice President Mike Pence, who assured him the full support of the federal government as farmers try to recover.
But with decades-old pecans torn to the ground and huge amounts of cotton destroyed, rebuilding could be a long, slow process.
The storm is blamed for the death of Sarah Radney, 11, of Seminole County.
“One minute I’m OK, and the next minute I’m falling apart,” her dad Roy Radney told AJC reporter Ben Brasch. “I’ve got five (other) kids to coach through this. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Sarah’s memorial service was Monday morning. An online fundraiser has brought in more than $21,000 to help the family with expenses, and a kindhearted Belk’s manager helped the family by providing funeral attire.
“Roy and Amber and some of the kids went to Belk’s in Thomasville (Saturday) to get the proper suits and dresses for the Funeral today,” the Go Fund Me page administered by Sarah’s aunt reported. “Roy really wasn’t sure how to properly shop for a suit and how to make sure it fit properly. So, he asked for help. The sales rep asked a few questions about what occasion the suits were for. After Roy told her, she excused herself for a moment. Shortly after, the Manager of Belk’s came to assist and then told Roy that they could also pick out shoes and dresses for the ladies and girls and that they were at no cost to them. Roy insisted on paying but the Manager wouldn’t take the money.”
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