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Blog: Matt Reese

Harvey’s agricultural impact and an Ohio relief effort

Anyone involved with agriculture cannot help but be moved by the terrible pictures and videos coming out of the devastated region of Texas where crops have been lost, livestock has been lost and cattle are being moved to higher ground after massive flooding in the area from Hurricane Harvey.

According to The Weather Channel, heavy rains in Texas from Aug. 24 through Sept. 1 may total as much as 50 inches of rain in some areas. The average annual rainfall in Houston is 49.76 inches. Combined with the estimated sustained winds of Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 25 were 130 miles per hour, Hurricane Harvey could be the most costly natural disaster in United States history.

“The economy’s impact, by the time its total destruction is completed, will approach $160 billion, which is similar to the combined effect of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,” said Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather. “The disaster is just beginning in certain areas. Parts of Houston, the United States’ fourth largest city, will be uninhabitable for weeks and possibly months due to water damage, mold, disease-ridden water and all that will follow this 1,000-year flood.”

The worst flooding from Harvey may be yet to come as waters continue to rise in Texas and levees are at risk for breaches and failures.

“This is a devastating flooding event, the likes of which we have not seen in at least the last 12 years, since the Hurricane Katrina disaster,” said Brett Rossio, AccuWeather meteorologist.

Communities in the worst hit areas of Texas will be under water for weeks and perhaps a month or more even after the rain stops. Power will likely remain out for an extended period until it is safe for crews to repair the lines, according to AccuWeather.

The incredible wind and rainfall has taken a toll on agriculture in the area. Texas leads U.S. in cattle and cotton production. An estimated $150 million worth of cotton has been lost and there were roughly 1.2 million beef cattle in the 54 counties that have been declared disaster areas from Hurricane Harvey, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“That’s 27% of the state’s cowherd,” said David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock economist in College Station, Tex. “That’s a conservative estimate of beef cow numbers because 14 of those counties only have cattle inventory estimates.”

Anderson pointed out that since it is late August, many calves in the affected areas are either close or ready to be marketed. The disaster area also includes a large number of livestock auction markets and Sam Kane meat processing.

Those in Ohio interested in sending supplies to those in need in Texas can team up with Hendren Farm Market and Tri H Trucking of Johnstown that have at least two semi trucks to fill with items for the flood victims in Houston. The trailers will be parked at Hendren Farm Market (14595 Johnstown Utica Road, Johnstown OH 43031) Sept. 1, 2 and 3 for people to drop off supplies that will be delivered to the Precinct One constable’s office in Houston. They are looking for new, packaged items including: water/Gatorade, baby formula, bottles, socks, underwear, undershirts, children’s clothes, diapers/wipes, canned foods, hygiene products (tooth brushes, tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, etc.), dog/cat food, blankets and pillows, and children’s toys. They will also need large boxes to package the items.

“It is only Wednesday and we are getting good donations. They are in need of these things,” said Shawna Hendren, of Hendren farm Market. “Tech Rubber brought 250 boxes so we can start packaging this stuff up. I am so thankful. Keep spreading the word.”

In addition, the Texas Farm Bureau has established a relief fund to address the agricultural losses inflicted by Hurricane Harvey. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation: http://texasfarmbureau.org/texas-farm-bureau-hurricane-harvey-relief-effort/.

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Author: Matt Reese

I grew up on a small farm in northwest Ohio and spent most of my youth writing, doodling, taking pictures, reading and exploring the surrounding farmland. With a family full of teachers, I also grew up around a culture supportive of education. I was active in athletics in high school before graduating from Ohio State University where I studied agricultural communications. This led to my career in agricultural journalism.

I continue to work on the family Christmas tree farm in Hancock County. I married my wonderful wife, Kristin, in 2002. We live on a small farm in Fairfield County with sheep, rabbits and chickens. We have a daughter Campbell Miriam who was born in the fall of 2007 and a son Parker Matthew born in August of 2009. We are active in our local church and with numerous other organizations. I help with the agricultural program at Ohio Christian University in Circleville as well.

I have worked for Ohio’s Country Journal since 1999. I also write a column for numerous newspapers around Ohio, Fresh Country Air and do freelance writing and photography work. I have written and self-published six books to date. To find my books, visit lulu.com and search for “Matt Reese.”

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