Jay and Jarman Sullivan stood on the edge of their property and looked down in a deep ditch next to streams of water. On the other side of the path was an abundance of acreage they can’t reach.
Hurricane Matthew is responsible for that.
The land is used for crops, such as soybeans and tobacco, which has already been harvested. The owners of J. Sullivan & Son Farms are wondering how they’re going to get back there.
“This is as far as we’ve been,” Jarman said during an interview late this week.
Throughout Sampson County, washouts have been a burden for residents. It’s one the biggest problems for farmers such as the Sullivans, especially when it comes to livestock operations and getting feed trucks to animals. But somehow, some way, the Sullivans say they have to get across the large gap on their property in northeastern Sampson County.
“We got to get someone here to fix it,” Jay said about filling the gap. “That’s beyond our capabilities with our equipment to get it fixed.”
It’s not going to be a quick fix. They believe it may take weeks or months to solve the problem. And it’s not the only problem. Strong winds blew down corn on their property, buildings were damaged and hog farms have no power.
“We’re hoping to get that on pretty soon,” Jarman said.
Before Hurricane Matthews, the land was already soaked, but heavy rainfall in a short amount of time made it worse for crops.
“In the month of September, it delayed harvest,” Jarman pointed out. “We were able to get back into the field last week. We ran as hard as we could to get the crop out, but we just didn’t get all the way around to it. It’s going to be a little while before we get back in the field now.”
Reports show that the area may have received about 15 inches of rain.
“I wouldn’t be scared to say it was as much as 20,” Jarman said. “As far as previous storm damage, (Hurricane Fran) blew a lot of trees down and the wind was a lot worse. The wind in this storm was higher than what I was expecting, but the biggest issue is the amount of water that came through.”
The Sullivans are expecting damage to corn. Some crops that look OK, may have defects becuase of the excess of rain.
“They may not know until six months from now what the damage is going to be when you start talking about the shelf life of some produce and stuff like that,” Jarman said while relating to farmers in the area.
With hog farms, they were trying to ration out feed. The farm is trying to conserve what it has becauseof delivery issues from road outages.
“I would like for them hogs to be able to eat as much as they can and whenever they want to,” Jarman said.
At storage areas, generators are operated through tractors. In the livestock business, it’s important to have one.
“It’s been a lifesaver,” Jay said while driving past one of them.
Although the Sullivans can see the damage, it’s still too early to count how much it’ll cost them. The farm is seeking help from its insurance agency and anticipates soybean harm.
Sampson County Cooperative Extension agents recently reported that assistance is available through the Farm Service Agency. Local agents are available by calling 910-592-7161.
According to a news release from the United States Department of Agriculture, federal farm programs may be available to help farmers recover from heavy rain, flooding and other problems related to Hurricane Matthew. Some of them include programs and loans for non-insured crops or livestock issues. Assistance may also be available for private forest land and emergency assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish.
“You really don’t know until you get out there and start harvesting and actually get a look at what’s going on,” Jarman said.