And those are just the ones that had some sort of impact in Georgia WITHIN in the past 3 years. Each hurricane had devastating effects in various parts of the southeast region, with Michael being THE most devastating to the forest industry in Georgia (of these 3 within my lifetime). Michael devastated southeast Georgia and Northwest Florida. In Georgia, over 7,000 landowners were affected with an estimated total of nearly $763 MILLION dollars and over 2 MILLION acres affected in Southwest Georgia (and this doesn’t even cover the other agricultural crops affected…)
Matthew and Irma did not receive quite the attention as Michael, in regard to timber and agriculture damage, and who knows what Dorin will do to whatever region he hits (IF he ever decides WHERE to hit), but what all these storms HAVE done is raise some eyebrows to possible interested landowners IF owning land is a wise decision, as well as get those who already own land wondering “what would I do IF that happens to me…”
. . . TRUE, NATURAL DISASTERS. . .
cannot be avoided, cannot be managed adequately enough to mitigate the impacts they will have on your property. (Now, this shouldn’t be an excuse now to NOT manage it or invest in your property of course.) And before you ask, what about “land insurance” or “timber insurance”? There are varying opinions if insurance is worth the price point for an entire property for the entire rotation of management. There’s a general conscious that the finances aren’t worth purchasing the insurance, however there is the caveat of you must determine your risk versus reward for yourself and your situation.
So you have a disaster, whether hurricane, tornado, or ice storm for instance, forecasted for your property’s proximity...
What should you do?
First off, do what’s best to keep you and your family safe. There is literally nothing worth taking the risk over ya’lls safety. AFTER the event has passed, be sure to still heed professionals advice on reentering an area (if you had to leave) or navigating an area (if you hunkered down).
Again, after everything gets the all clear that the event is through and any cleanup for safe travels are completed,
What are 5 things you should do?
1. Scout your property for initial damage.
Do this with careful heed. Depending on the storm, there is still a strong possibility of many hazards on your property. First off snags could continue to fall days and weeks after the event if trees have been significantly weakened. If trees have snapped, they could pose as a spear threat. Also stumpholes can cause twisted to broken ankles. So when walking around – be sure to look UP, look DOWN, and look AROUND constantly.
2. Get a professional to evaluate your property.
During these times the state agencies are likely doing a survey of storm damage, but it also doesn’t hurt to request a site visit for your property specifically. Often times, depending on your state, this service will be free and they can provide an initial recommendation. At the very least, they can tell you in their professional opinion if your property is salvageable: if you should continue managing as is versus the cost to salvage the damage, or remove it, is not worth the logistics/finances or if your property has any special management needs. If your local resources are unavailable, contact a consultant forester to provide these services. They can help you decide if your property can be saved to continue out your rotation plan OR if you need to cut your loses to salvage what you can now OR if everything is a total loss. You will want to do this step as soon as humanly possible, because many times IF your timber IS salvageable, you will have a short window to get it harvested before insects and diseases set in…
So. . . do. . . NOT. . . procrastinate. . .
3. Stay or GET connected with your state’s forestry association.
Depending on the severity of the disaster/storm, there may be financial assistance coming down the pipeline to assist in your cleanup and salvage needs or reforestation. Be sure to stay connected with your local resources and forestry associations to see what you may be eligible for. During these times, every penny will count to help recover AS MUCH as you possibly can.
4. Check out your tax deductions options.
Reach out to a professional tax account who DEALS with land regularly. Likely, your average tax consultant at H&R Block, however intelligent, won’t know how to handle the possible depreciations from timber loss. Now, each state will vary on the options you may have from a natural disaster so I am not going to elaborate any further BUT this will also be critical in any hope of getting back “something.”
5. Update and renew your management plan(s).
If you had to completely restart, be sure to reevaluate your rotation goals and the reforestation needs. If it’s only a partial reforestation, be sure to reflect the acreage changes and update your maps. If you will be continuing with just the percent loss, be sure to note that for better final harvest expectations.
For everyone anticipating the arrival of Dorin and how it will effect your property, you’ll stay in my prayers. Stay safe.