Local businesses continue hurricane relief efforts one month after storm

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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 9, 2018

CALHOUN COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Saturday marks one month since Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Big Bend and the devastation and destruction is still evident in many areas today.

Countless businesses have been impacted as well. On Friday, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that estimated AG damages from the storm total nearly $1.5 billion. The timber industry took the brunt of the hit, but others like cotton, field crops and cattle have been affected as well.

Employees of the Ocheesee Creamery in Calhoun County estimated they have suffered roughly $200,000 dollars in losses.

"I don't think it will ever be back to normal. I think we may reach a new normal," said Heather Falb, who lives on the farm.. "When you first walked out, it was like, where do we even start?"

The family farm, which had been in the family for roughly seven decades, will never be the same again, said Falb. The plot of land the family has nurtured for generations was left unrecognizable.

After the storm had passed, Falb said the family emerged to metal scraps and the remnants of several structures, like a large barn and a storage shed. The roof on the house was severely damaged and pecan trees planted by the first generation in the 1950s also did not survive.

"Mom was born in the house in 1955. My mom and dad got married in the front yard under the pecan trees," said Pierre Wesselhoeft, who manages the farm.

With no electricity for an extended period of time, the family was forced to dump more than 3,000 gallons of milk and their store shut down. Falb said the herd of cattle was left traumatized and is only producing a fraction of their normal dairy output is..

Despite all this, the family considers themselves lucky because they only lost one cow to the storm and another one that had its ear severed-off by flying debris was recovering well.

"The barns were going down so we didn't want them in the barns to begin with," said Wesselhoeft. "We're thankful for the safety we had. We're just trying to piece back together our lives and keep going."

Wesselhoeft added that despite it all, the family is grateful to have had help from the community. A GoFundMe Page has been set up to help them with costs that are not covered by insurance.

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