Map showing Moultrie, GA

Aug 29, 2019
Case Study: Surviving Hurricane Michael

{Sponsored} Hurricane Michael struck the Florida panhandle as a category 5 on October 10, 2018; it was the strongest hurricane on record in over 120 years to make landfall in that region, and the storm impacted southwest Georgia with wind gusts nearing 90 miles per hour. The damage was catastrophic to many homes and businesses in the area.

Marcia Sells, owner of Sells Plant Company, Inc. in Moultrie, GA, hunkered down for the storm after securing her greenhouses. Since her house is on a hill, she evacuated to a safer location. Estimates were that her town, which sits about 50 miles north of Tallahassee, would be hit hard by the storm.

Michael punched through the town, damaging and destroying homes and businesses. The big threat inland from a hurricane isn’t just rain and flooding – it is also tornadoes; large storms spawn them as the rotating winds make landfall.

When Sells returned to her greenhouses after the storm passed, she knew the estimates for the storm’s power were dead-on. Six of her greenhouses were flattened. The others were damaged. “It was pretty scary, but it could have been a whole lot worse,” Sells said.

The first thing Sells did was contact Hortica® to start the claims process. She was concerned about the timing of this storm, since planting needed to start in a few short months. Almost immediately after that, her claims adjuster, Tom Richey, called her directly to check in; he didn’t know she’d begun the process, but as a local, he knew she would likely need his help. Within a couple days, he was out to survey the damage along with a contractor specializing in greenhouses.

The first step was to repair the damaged greenhouses so that Sells and her team could begin planting. Richey was able to help expedite the claim so that Sells was able to replace lost product. Sells and her crew did all the repairs they could manage, while the contractor and his team began the major repairs to the damaged houses.

The construction team worked seven days a week through Christmas and returned on January 4; by February 1, they’d repaired the damaged greenhouses and rebuilt the destroyed houses. Miraculously, Sells didn’t have to reduce any inventory.

“We started spring crops in houses that were repaired and eased into new ones. It was tight, but it worked. We ended up just fine on targets for cycles. We didn’t have to eliminate anything due to lack of room. The contractor was in constant contact, making sure we had what we needed when we needed,” Sells said.

The damage to Sells’ greenhouses was classified as a “hurricane-related event” since her damage was caused by winds – as well as some suspected tornado activity. She is grateful that the insurance process and repairs were relatively painless. “Lots of folks on the coast are not rebuilding because they can’t afford to. I feel very fortunate. I had a very good experience,” Sells said.

For information on how Hortica® coverage works for hurricanes, wind and tornadoes, visit or call 800-541-5082.

Hortica® property and casualty coverages are underwritten, and loss control services are provided, by Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company, Florists’ Insurance Company, and Florists’ Insurance Service, Inc., Edwardsville, IL, members of the Sentry Insurance Group. For more information, visit Policies, coverages, benefits and discounts are not available in all states. See policy for complete coverage details.

This document is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. No one should act on the information contained in this document without advice from a local professional with relevant expertise.

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© 2019 Hortica

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