Hurricane Ike will go down as one of the most diasterous storms in Texas history after pummeling the southeastern portion of the state a couple weeks ago. Sales will surely slow for the time being, but the vibe in the surrounding Houston area is that the storm could have been worse–and business will soon go on as usual.
Eddy Edmondson, president of the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association (TNLA), recently spoke with a couple of insurance companies about damage claims. One insurance company told him it had 30-plus claims as a result of Ike yet no catastrophic damages. The other insurance company had 19 claims totaling about $12 million in losses.
TNLA is currently working with the Texas Department of Agriculture developing a list of affected growers to get assistance from USDA. “The number we put in was probably around $10.9 or $11 million,” Edmondson says. “That includes cleanup.
“As far as the wholesale growers go, I don’t know of anyone who had a complete loss. They dodged a bullet there.”
Green Valley Growers, the second-largest greenhouse grower headquartered in Texas which ranks 59th on our Top 100 Growers List, is one operation dodged a bullet with Ike. Green Valley Growers was battered but not necessarily bruised the way President Jim Hessler expected.
“The eye of the hurricane passed right over us,” he says. “We were right in the thick of it, but we actually came through and I was pleasantly surprised come Sunday morning. We had some damage, but it was not as extenisve as it could have been.”
Green Valley Growers, which was featured in our February 2008 cover story, spent the days before Ike’s arrival soaking plants as much as possible to avoid burnout. The crew secured fabric and irrigation systems, and it even covered much of its office with plastic.
“That was based on our experience from Rita,” Hessler says. “Covering the office in plastic was unnecessary because we did not have any damage to the office building itself. Other buildings around town did, though.”
Green Valley Growers will, of course, be forced to dump some plants. The operation sits about 30 miles north of Houston, and its main crops are annuals, perennials, blooming tropical and potted plants, palms, shade and fruit trees and ferns and citrus. Hessler says a handful of foliage sustained some burn, but the propagation department experienced no damage–and that was his biggest concern.
“We had no damage whatsoever to propagation,” Hessler says. “The mum crop was untouched. You can’t tell anything had ever happened to the mum crop. The greatest amount of damage was probably in the trees–they said on this storm, the winds on the ground level were not necessarily as strong.
“The little bit that I’ve heard from others so far is that the growers east of us didn’t get hit as bad. It was mostly windy and we got a lot of rain down with it. Twelve inches of it at the nursery.”