Florida timber farmers face tough choices year after Hurricane Michael

Posted at 1:33 PM, Oct 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-10 13:33:28-04

BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (AP) — Tons of timber are rotting on the Florida Panhandle a year after Hurricane Michael smashed through the region.

Timber farmers such as Joe Leonard and his family are struggling with what to do next as they await badly needed federal money to clean up the decaying logs and debris. The cleanup is a necessary step before they can plant new trees.

Last October, Michael's fierce winds toppled trees, including towering pines dating back a half century or more. The massive storm killed more than two dozen people in northern Florida, destroyed hundreds of homes and brought catastrophic damage to the region's timber industry.

Leonard says the region awaits help, amid worries that Michael may have permanently damaged the Panhandle's timber industry.