All Hands Were On Deck Prior to Irma


It takes a village working before a hurricane, and in the aftermath to get things done. Last week, we checked in with Jay Sullivan, Sampson County, North Carolina farmer, who was working on harvesting tobacco, checking generators and hoping the ground would dry enough to cut some corn before Hurricane Irma made an appearance in the Tarheel State:

“Here on our farm, we ramped up a lot we did harvest corn, it was wet to begin with, but we Finally got back into the field, and we ran all the weekend and Monday, pretty much non-stop.  And we got a fair amount of stuff done, it’s a good corn crop, so it’s a slow crop to harvest.

“But, our local elevators and feed mills they responded in kind, and they stayed open, some of them around the clock, and we were able to haul grain off just about as fast as we could get it in the truck, and there wasn’t much wait time, when we got to the mill, so we were really thankful for everyone pulling together.

“As I told you the last time we spoke, this is not our first experience with potential bad weather.  Everyone still wants to get their crops out but it’s not as hard pressed now, we got a little rain and we’re going to be at least the rest of today, and maybe get back in the field tomorrow and finish up.”

Jay, let me ask you; in the emergency declaration from the governor last week, that lifted weight restrictions on farm vehicles hauling crops to market, or elevators or whatever.  How did that help you?

“That helped a lot, we were able to load some trucks a little more than we normally would.  We still practiced good safety, I think every farmer realizes that if you have an accident or something, you just brought everything to a screeching halt. 

“So, we were smart with what we were doing, and that happens a lot. And it helps us carry a little bit more, and maybe get a little more product to the market, and be in a position to cut down on some trips, and that may have helped too, like I said, the mills and all were open, and we cut back on a little traffic, and that helped us in line, people were able to carry a little bit more on their load.”

Now you mentioned that the mills stayed open, it takes a village to fight a hurricane.

“It does, and as I say, we’re fortunate to live where they live, and our elevator operators and folks like that, their roots are on the farm, they understand what it takes to make it and what is generally the key to everything.  We had mills open Sunday morning, and some Sunday afternoon late, and as I said some of the feed mills stayed open 24 hours.  That meant a lot to us, and I appreciate that more than people can realize.”

Jay, anything we need to add, here?

“Well, I appreciate everything, all the thoughts and prayers that people have given to us in this area, as it goes out to everyone south of us affected by Irma and Harvey because we’ve done this before, and we understand these things, and I just pray for those people and hope things go as good as they can.  And I hope that the folks in North Carolina can send some help their way, if possible.  I know we always appreciated it, and I know it will be to them, as well.”

Jay Sullivan, Sampson County, North Carolina farmer.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.