Trees brought down by Hurricane Michael’s ferocious winds took a heavy toll on life, property and the timber industry in the heavily forested Florida Panhandle, where $1.3 billion in timber was lost, authorities said Friday.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said that along with the $1.3 billion in timber losses, pulp mills, sawmills and other production facilities were damaged in 11 of the top timber-producing counties in state.
“This is a catastrophic loss to the forest industry in the Florida Panhandle,” Putnam said in a news release.
Officials also were concerned that downed trees could pose a fire hazard.
Forest Service Director Jim Karels said the danger grows as the debris dries. The agency is working to clear the debris and establish fire lines that could help contain forest fire, he said.
Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, and Freida Frisaro in Miami contributed to this report.
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