LA Agriculture Damaged by Hurricane Ida

LA Agriculture Damaged by Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida came ashore in Louisiana nearly a month ago, bringing Category 4 hurricane winds and severe flooding. The storm caused at least $584 million in damage to agriculture in the state, experts at the LSU AgCenter estimate.

  • More than half was in damage to trees snapped by wind that make up Louisiana's timber industry.
  • 35% of the damage costs are from buildings, equipment, and other infrastructure
  • The storm cost produce and ornamental horticulture an estimated $9.5 million
  • The estimates don't include massive damages to the fishing industry.

"This storm was a monster," Thomas Hymel, an agent with the AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant, told the AP. "It has just blown apart the supply chain, the infrastructure and the docks. Some of these places will take a long time to recover."

Why This Matters

Even though the storm subsided weeks ago, its impacts have not. For the people in Louisiana working in agriculture, the economic damage and time it will take to recover comes on top of the storm's multilayered impacts. From delays in power coming back on during intense heat to damage to people's homes to downed power lines, the area still needs basic services to recalibrate. In the agriculture sector, recovery could take years. Only a tiny fraction of timber brought down by hurricanes Laura and Delta that hit the region last year could be sold.

Devastating Damage to Fishing Industry

It's still unknown just how many fishing boats and docks were swept away by Hurricane Ida, but the initial assessments are sobering. In some areas, this year's storm caused more damage than Hurricane Katrina, which cost seafood businesses more than $1 billion. Those damages could add up to half of the industry's $2.4 billion annual profit; the sector employs more than 23,000 people along the Louisiana coast harvesting and processing fish and oysters and crabs. Oyster production has already been low because of past hurricanes and the BP oil spill.

"This thing just seemed to beat and beat and beat, kind of mixing it up like a washing machine," Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, whose office oversees seafood promotion told the AP. "I think that slow-moving storm beating these boats against the docks, against each other, caused a lot more vessels to sink and have major damage."