Floral Industry rebounds from Hurricanes

High weather drama continued this week, as Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida, cutting a wide path of destruction but also sparing some areas that had been bracing for harder hits.

Floral industry members from South Florida to South Carolina have checked in with the Society of American Florists and EBrief editors, sharing stories of frustration, product loss and facility damage, power outages, flooding, disrupted supply chains — and also, big sighs of relief.

“We are recovering,” said Christine Boldt, executive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida. “It could have been a lot worse.” As of Tuesday, Boldt added, “Flights are arriving at the airport, the importers are open for business and the truck lines are starting today to haul flowers again.”


Flooding misery from Hurricane Irma carries on in Bonita Springs, Florida, days after the storm left the state. Image taken from this The Lift documentary.

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts are ongoing for victims of Hurricane Harvey. “Texas State Florists’ Association and the AIFD Foundation continue to receive donations for the Hurricane Harvey Florist Fund,” said Dianna Nordman, AAF, executive director of TSFA. “The Hurricane Harvey Florist Fund Grant Application will be online at aifdfoundation.org by Sept. 15.”

Back to Work After Irma
Recovery work — for industry members both in Florida and Texas — is in its early stages, and the damage for some this week has been significant. The Department of Homeland Security estimated yesterday that some 15 million Floridians are currently without power. Hurricane Irma is responsible for least 15 deaths in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, according to official estimates. Overall, the storm took 47 lives in the Caribbean and the U.S.

Industry members across segments said returning to normal will take time.

Corey Doel of Prime Floral LLC, headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, said the transportation company was busy managing the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, “but we are glad to report that our facilities [in Miami] sustained no major damage, and we are resuming our normal shipping schedules on Wednesday, September 13.”

Other companies, including Armellini Express Lines and Florida Beauty, also have returned or plan to return soon to shipping schedules. As David Armellini noted, however, trucking companies are dependent on flights coming into Miami International, which only recently re-opened.

“We’re back to normal as of today, or at least, as normal as we can be right now,” said Armellini, president of Armellini Industries Inc. in Palm City, Florida. The company is working closely with employees who have themselves been affected by the storm.

In Seville, Florida — about 40 miles east of Daytona Beach — Jana Register of FernTrust Inc., a co-op made up of 13 family farms, said initial reports from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences indicate “there is up to 70 percent damage in the cut foliage industry.”

“Recovery and repair began today with our FernTrust ferneries,” she said Tuesday. “We are trying to juggle available labor between harvesting and repair. We still have staff that has not been able to return home from evacuation and fuel is still not available in our area which definitively complicates things.”

Oscar Fernandez of Equiflor/Rio Roses in Miami reported a “crazy” day at the office Tuesday, but also some positive news.

“Even though we lost power here at the office we have a generator so our coolers were never down,” he said. “My family and I fared well, we still have no power at the house. The streets are a mess with fallen trees and debris everywhere. Luckily there was no real structural damage anywhere. If the eye of the hurricane would have hit us dead on it would have been really bad so we’re thankful that it didn’t.”

Click here to read the full article at SAF

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