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Mary Lamberts, Donald Pybas, Carlos Balerdi, Joseph Garofalo, and Charles LaPradd

The University of Florida Miami-Dade County Extension, as a member of the USDA's County Emergency Board, is required to assess damage to commercial horticultural crops (tropical fruit, ornamentals, and vegetables) immediately following natural disasters. While trying to determine dollar values following a freeze in Jan. 1997, Extension and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) developed a spreadsheet that lists all the major crops by commodity along with average yield per acre and price based on how the crop is sold. Acreage is another component, as is the percentage of each crop that was “lost” during the disaster in question. These components are multiplied to give a dollar value of the loss for each individual crops and are totaled to give losses for the major commodities in Miami-Dade. While acreage is relatively stable for ornamental and tree fruit crops, it fluctuates considerably for vegetables, depending on the time of year. Within roughly 24 h of a disaster, the committee assesses actual damage to different crops by conducting a windshield survey of the local growing area. This allows staff to calculate the percentage of damage experienced by each sector and current acreage. Then, acreage and crop loss figures are plugged into the equation and dollar values are generated. Crop loss can also be translated into lost jobs, which can assist migrant service providers with funding requests. This presentation will review the different types of damage experienced during hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005 and their effects on the local economy. Katrina caused extensive flooding, with some structural damage, while damage from Wilma was primarily due to high winds and micro-bursts.