Farmers struggle as crops ruined from flooding

Elaina Athans Image
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Tarboro farmer's crops ruined after Hurricane Matthew
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Tarboro farmer Tom Maahs has to deal with the devastation of his fields

TARBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Tarboro farmer Tom Maahs stares at his field, he is not sure what comes next. The flood waters from Hurricane Matthew ruined most of his crops as the field was under water for days.

"I didn't create this. This is no one individual's fault," he said. "I'm sick. I'm semi-retired. I work three days a week and this is what I was going to make my life."

Maahs lost peanuts and sweet potatoes. He was able to get cucumbers out of the ground before Matthew.

He is just learning he won't get any money from FEMA. The federal agency advises on its website it will not offer financial assistance to business owners and farmers. FEMA does provide loan referrals.

Maahs doesn't want incur more debt. He just paid off his house two weeks ago.

"Do I want a $200,000 loan at 55 years old? No I don't," he said.

Maahs is not searching for other grants to help recoup his losses.

State officials can't quantify the agriculture industry's financial hit and they're not sure of the ripple effects.

The sweet potato is a big concern. North Carolina is the nation's largest producer of the crop. Officials aren't sure if there will be shortages in grocery stores this year.

Other crops ruined are cotton, soybeans, and peanuts. Those crops were in harvest when Hurricane hit. 18 percent of the peanut crop was harvested before Mathew and 35 percent of the sweet potato crop.

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