Drone video from Cudjoe Key, Upper Sugarloaf Key, Summerland Key and Sunshine Key show how some of the hardest his parts of the Florida Keys are fairing days after hurricane Irma made landfall. Rodney White, Michael Zamora/The Register
Hurricane Irma dealt Florida's iconic crop a devastating blow, destroying nearly all the citrus in some groves and seriously damaging others. U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio visited groves in Lake Wales and heard from growers. (Sept. 13) AP
Aerial video shows the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on St. Thomas in the U.S Virgin Islands. (Sept. 12) AP
Drone footage provides a more broad view of the the damage Hurricane Irma inflicted on south Florida communities. USA TODAY
Aerial views filmed by British broadcaster Sky news on Monday revealed the extent of damage on the eastern Caribbean Island of Barbuda, after Hurricane Irma swept through it, leaving a trail of destruction. (Sept. 12) AP
Irma's gale force winds kept the plane from landing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. USA TODAY
Lorri Walters, of Clermont feels lucky that the mobile home she shares with her mom in the Emerald Lakes Mobile Village was not destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY
Drone footage shows the destruction left by Hurricane Irma in the Leawood Lakes and Cape Sable Lakes neighborhoods of Naples. Video by Rodney White and Michael Zamora. USA TODAY
Jacksonville, Florida, authorities are telling residents near the St. Johns river to leave quickly as floodwaters rise. (Sept. 11) AP
Talk about a close call! One man in Georgia was driving amidst Irma's wind and rain when a tree started falling on the road in front of him! USA TODAY
Time-lapse video captured by the Associated Press shows the effects Hurricane Irma had on Miami Beach from Saturday to Monday. (Sept. 11) AP
Hurricane Irma veered slightly right, giving Tampa area officials less to worry about in terms of storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico, but causing slightly more storm damage inland in places like Polk County. (Sept. 11) AP
Although Miami was spared a big brunt of Hurricane Irma, mobile home residents here are not breathing a sigh of relief as they return to their now damaged or completely destroyed homes. Colette Luke has more. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
Daylight revealed the scope of destruction Hurricane Irma caused across Florida. Wochit
The full breadth of the damage from Hurricane Irma remains unclear, particularly in the hard-hit Keys, where communications and travel were still difficult. An aerial tour of Key Largo showed toppled buildings and damaged boats. (Sept. 11) AP
Flooded streets and ripped roofs can be seen above the Holiday Manor neighborhood in East Naples, Fla. Des Moines Register
An aerial view from a helicopter shows damage done to some homes in Key West, Florida, after Hurricane Irma made landfall just after 9 a.m. about 20 miles outside the island city. (Sept. 11) AP
Kelly McClenthen and boyfriend Daniel Harrison put on waders to enter her neighborhood in Bonita Springs after Irma, and they needed them. (Sept. 11) AP
Hurricane Irma took aim at heavily populated areas of central Florida on Monday as it carved a path of destruction through the state. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
Boats in a marina near Miami City Hall were severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. USA TODAY
Video shot in Boyton Beach, Florida, shows the transformer sparking as Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida. USA TODAY
A monster Hurricane Irma roared into Florida Sunday with 130 mph winds, flooding streets and knocking out power to more than 1.5 million homes. In Palm Bay, a tornado triggered by Irma's approach destroyed a number of mobile homes. (Sept. 10) AP
Hurricane Irma pummels Florida Keys. Video provided by AFP Newslook
A crane atop a high-rise under construction in downtown Miami collapsed Sunday amid strong winds from Hurricane Irma. The crane collapsed in a bayfront area filled with hotels and high-rise condo and office buildings. (Sept. 10) AP
Hurricane Irma surges through the Florida Keys with damaging winds.
Wave of up to 36 feet smashed into Havana, Cuba, forcing residents to navigate the streets in boats in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
Rescuers with the Martin County Sheriff's Department pluck boaters from their vessel stranded among the outer bands of Hurricane Irma. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
Hurricane Irma caused massive damage as it pounded Cuba's northern coast on Saturday with residents left reeling in the aftermath. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
As Hurricane Irma prepares to hit Florida, those on the Caribbean island of Anguilla are assessing the devastating effect the storm had on their island. Vanessa Croft Thompson, a teacher in Anguilla, says the storm brought mass destruction to the island. (Sept. 9) AP
Dutch military authorities rushed aid and assistance to the Caribbean island of St. Martin on Thursday after Hurricane Irma battered the region. (Sept. 8) AP
Drone footage shows widespread devastation on Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands. (Sept. 8) AP
A man on the Caribbean island of Anguilla videos waves crashes through his house as Hurricane Irma devastates the island. (Sept. 9) AP
The Royal Netherlands Navy says Hurricane Irma caused 'enormous damage' to the Dutch side of Saint-Martin Island. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
The governor of the British Virgin Islands on Friday said he declared a state of emergency after Hurricane Irma left a string of Caribbean islands devastated. In a radio address, Gov. Gus Jaspert said he was "heartbroken" by the destruction. (Sept. 8) AP
- Drone video reveals some of the hardest hit areas in the Florida Keys
- Irma delivers serious punch to Florida citrus
- Raw: aerials of Irma damage on US Virgin Islands
- Before and after aerials of Irma's dramatic impact
- Barbuda flattened by Irma
- Plane pushed sideways by Irma crosswinds
- Flooding and structural damage for a Clermont neighborhood after Hurricane Irma
- Hurricane Irma wrecks southwest Florida neighborhoods
- Rescue crews battle record Jacksonville flooding
- Close call: Georgia driver in Hurricane Irma almost gets hit by tree
- Time-lapse captures Irma's fury on Miami Beach
- Crews, residents begin cleaning up after storm
- Miami residents return to upended mobile homes
- This is what Floridians faced once daylight broke
- Aerial tour shows damaged buildings in Key Largo
- Drone video shows Hurricane Irma damage in Naples
- Helicopter surveys damage in Key West, Fla.
- Couple survey their flooded Bonita Springs home
- Hurricane Irma tears path through Florida
- Hurricane Irma leaves giant holes in Miami boats
- Transformer sparks fly amid Hurricane Irma landfall
- Irma floods Miami, destroys homes in Palm Bay
- Hurricane Irma pummels Florida Keys
- Irma winds collapse crane atop Miami high-rise
- Irma peels off roof, pounds Florida Keys
- Cubans wade, boat through downtown Havana after Hurricane Irma
- Crews make dramatic rescue off Florida coast
- Hurricane Irma leaves behind massive destruction in Cuba
- Woman tours Irma devastated Anguilla
- Raw: Scenes of devastation in St. Martin
- Raw: Drone footage shows devastation on Tortola
- Irma waves crash through house
- Saint-Martin Island ravaged by Hurricane Irma in Dutch Navy video
- Heartache in British Virgin Islands after Irma
IMMOKALEE, FL - Southwest Florida's agricultural community is feeling the hurt from Hurricane Irma — and consumers will soon feel their pain at the supermarket.
The storm flooded fields and groves, blew oranges to the ground, twisted protective plastic, broke drip irrigation pipes and tubes, and destroyed vegetable plants. Growers struggled to get water off their fields and groves.
The damage could be felt for some time in supermarkets and on consumers' tables. Fruit and vegetables will be in shorter supply from Southwest Florida and other parts of Florida hit by Irma — and that will translate to higher prices in the grocery aisles for everything from tomatoes to orange juice.
Tears came to Gene McAvoy's eyes Tuesday as he surveyed the region's farms and ranches. He knows the damage could have been much worse if Irma stayed a Category 4 of 5 storm with even higher winds.
McAvoy, a multicounty vegetable agent with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been in Southwest Florida since 1989 and has lived in LaBelle since 1997.
"These are my friends. I've gone to their weddings. I've seen their babies born and gone to their funerals. It's my family," he said.
At a West Coast Tomato farm just north of Immokalee, Fla., McAvoy found out 524 acres of plastic laid for tomato plantings was a "total loss." That equates to more than $1 million in losses, he said, which doesn't include the 25 acres of plants that sat under the plastic and blew away.
The losses will set the farm back three weeks to a month on its planting schedule. "It's going to be an extensive amount of work just to get it redone," McAvoy said.
For area vegetable growers, harvesting usually begins by mid-October, and a primary mission is to have plenty of vegetables in the market for Thanksgiving, one of their most lucrative times of the year when there isn't as much competition from other U.S. regions or other countries, namely Mexico.
"We'll be lucky to hit the Christmas market this year," McAvoy said.
Frey Farms lost 95 acres of watermelons in LaBelle, McAvoy said. Other growers lost early plantings of squash, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant.
Alfie Oakes, owner of Oakes Farms, estimates his vegetable crop losses at $1.4 million to $1.6 million. Everything he had planted in Immokalee is gone, he said, including tomatoes and green peppers.
At one farm, Oakes said his drip irrigation tape was torn out of the ground, dragged across the field and twisted, which he attributes to tornado activity. All of his 17 greenhouses collapsed.
"You always hope for the best. But it was pretty sad out there," he said.
Fortunately, he moved the 5 million transplants that were in the greenhouses to safety ahead of the storm. "Right now they are doing great," he said.
The state's citrus industry is looking at serious damage from Irma — and Southwest Florida could have seen some of the worst of it.
“While the full extent of the impact is still being explored, this is definitely an event with very significant damage to the Florida citrus industry," said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. "Before Hurricane Irma there was a good chance we would have more than 75 million boxes of oranges on the trees this season; we now have much less. In some cases growers are dealing with trees out of the ground. Agricultural emergency declarations exist for types of natural disasters like this."
The declaration will allow for an assessment of the damage and for the development of a plan for federal assistance, she said.
"The storm didn't discriminate among large or small growers. It's all based on geography and where you ended up having your grove," Shepp said.
Ron Hamel, executive vice president of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association, estimated the hurricane knocked 50% of the fruit off the region's citrus trees. Statewide he expects the losses to be in the same range, with at least half of this season's crop wiped out.