20 Sep Hurricane Irma’s Impact on IMG Enterprises
Hurricane Irma was a fierce hurricane that made landfall as a category 3 in Marco Island, just 60 miles southwest of our Panther Grove. It continued to travel northeast with hurricane force winds and rainfall touching our Avant Grove in Arcadia, followed by our Sunridge Tree Farm in Lake Wales. The eye wall then passed 30 miles west of Cherrylake’s main farm in Groveland.
Hurricane Irma was the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, as well as one of the largest. Irma’s width was over 800 miles wide and roughly equivalent to the size of Texas. Jim Kossin, an atmospheric scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information stated, “Irma is anomalous. This is a record-breaker. Unprecedented. Catastrophic.” With such size and force, the hurricane winds and rain impacted all of Florida agriculture; and, as such, all of IMG Enterprises’ operations.
At IMG Citrus, we were fortunate that the Packinghouse facility sustained no damage. Many thanks to the team, who did an excellent job protecting the facility before the storm. We lost power, but were prepared with a generator on hand to supplement the power to our 22,000 square foot cooler and protect our imported fruit inventory on hand. Our sales and shipping offices were able to reopen Tuesday after the hurricane.
We sustained substantial fruit drop and heavy flooding in all of our groves. Our team worked tirelessly to pump the water out of the groves and apply fungicides to the tree roots. Root rot and pest infestations were a big concern with the groves having been underwater for over 72 hours, but with our resources and agile team we were able to minimize these impacts. Predictions from the Florida citrus industry range from 40-60% loss on grapefruit and oranges statewide and IMG Citrus as a whole suffered losses in this range.
At Cherrylake, we did our best to protect everything we could by laying down crops ahead of the hurricane. Immediately following the hurricane, we stood the farm back with urgency in order to provide the trees with much needed irrigation via diesel pumps and generators until power was restored four days later. Our loading dock reopened on Sunday, one week after Irma blew over, and we were able to regain normal sales operations; however, much of our industry and clients shifted activity from installation to preparation/restoration of the construction properties, creating a drop in sales of farm material for a period of 3 weeks.
While Hurricane Irma had a significant impact on our business; our diversification, strong financial statements and excellent insurance policies will carry both Cherrylake and IMG Citrus through this. With every setback, there is opportunity. At IMG Citrus in particular, we plan to invest even more in developing our import programs – from both Southern and Northern hemisphere growers. This will allow us to compensate for lost fruit volume and capitalize on a market need for imported citrus to supplement the smaller Florida crops.
This event has not changed IMG Enterprises’ commitment to Florida agriculture. We will continue to invest in new citrus planting. We will continue to grow, build and maintain the best quality landscapes. We are committed to our employees, customers, vendors and stakeholders, who provide us with the utmost motivation to succeed.
We are so thankful to our cherished employees. They demonstrated engagement and support to our operations while also carrying their own personal hardships from the hurricane. It was truly inspiring and heartwarming to see the passion our team has for this company and its family of employees.