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July 18, 2005   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
July 18, 2005

Escambia County Farmers Federation President Sammy Gibbs stands in a field of corn flattened by Hurricane Dennis. Prior to the storm, the stalks were well over six feet tall and had the promise of high yields.
The storm that forecasters predicted would tear apart the Gulf Coast did cause pockets of extensive damage in some areas of the state, but overall wasn't the menace that was expected. Early reports of damage caused by Hurricane Dennis indicate that Escambia County was hardest hit, but serious damage also occurred in parts of Conecuh and Monroe counties as well.

Farmers from southwest Alabama who were interviewed following the storm said despite damage to some commodities and facilities, they are optimistic about this year's crops. "Our worst wind direction was out of the northeast," said Escambia County Farmers Federation President Sammy Gibbs as he walked through a neighbor's corn field that was flattened by the high winds. "This corn needed around three weeks to finish making. If it had had those three weeks, it would have stood the storm better, but our ground here was pretty saturated and it let it lay over."

Gibbs, who operates Gibbs Farms with his brother Bob Gibbs and his mother Mary Gibbs, said what was bad for the corn crop, might be a blessing for the area's cotton crop.

"The cotton was shredded pretty bad and the older cotton will probably shed the bolls and fruit that was on it," Gibbs said. "But it's got time to recover, and with normal conditions, hopefully it will reset. The younger cotton received less damage, so we're just starting over with the older cotton, and it should all come in about the same time."

Other damage in southwest Alabama included numerous uprooted trees that damaged and destroyed some homes and buildings. A grain storage building and a peanut buying point under construction near Atmore were heavily damaged.

In Covington County, poultry farmer T.J. Boothe had one poultry house that collapsed during the height of the storm Sunday afternoon, but the other three houses he owns suffered only slight damage.

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