Decatur County farmer Bobby Baker works to remove a fallen tree from the roof of his farm shed. Photo: Andy Tucker, UGA Extension

Massive cleanup underway in hurricane-damaged South Georgia

University of Georgia Agriculture Extension agents have been traveling throughout South and Southwest Georgia to help farmers assess their massive losses following Hurricane Michael.

State estimates released last week indicated the hit to the state’s agriculture industry could reach nearly $3 billion - and the numbers continue to change, spokeswoman Sharon Dowdy said.

Vast as the destruction was, it was clear residents had done much to begin the cleanup efforts before state agents were able to get down there.

MORE: How Hurricane Michael made history 

Breaking down Michael’s $3 billion hit to farming

“When we got up the next morning (after the storm), there were power lines all over the roads, up in the trees,” said Greg Calhoun, who farms 12,000 acres in Miller, Decatur, Seminole, Baker and Early counties. “People had their four- wheelers pulling stuff out of the roads. People had chainsaws, tractors. The one good thing about the whole deal was watching people working together to clean this mess up.”

Here are more photos:

Michael slammed into the Panhandle on Oct. 10 at Category 4 strength and was still Category 3 as it crossed into Georgia.  

It is blamed for at least 35 deaths, including 25 in Florida, six in Virginia, three in North Carolina and one in Georgia. The funeral for Sarah Radney, who died when strong winds struck her grandparents’ house near Lake Seminole, was held recently in Cairo. She was 11.

Michael is only the fifth major hurricane, defined as Category 3 or higher, to strike Georgia since reliable record keeping began in 1851, said Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz. The other four struck in the 1800s.

Watch below for a detailed explanation of what made Michael such a uniquely powerful and destructive storm:

Hurricane Michael was the strongest hurricane to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle since at least 1851, when reliable record keeping began. Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz explains.

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