(Sept. 2) Growers in the east central growing regions of Florida were preparing for heavy winds and rain with the aniticipated landfall of Hurricane Frances in the morning of Saturday, Sept. 4.

Vegetable growers in Palm Beach County near Belle Glade were expecting flooding and wind damage from the storm, but the citrus growing region in Indian River County appeared in the most danger.

Gov. Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency Sept. 1, activated the National Guard and reopened the state’s emergency operations center in Tallahassee, Fla.

“We are prepared, we will respond and we will recover,” Bush said.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami projected the hurricane to make landfall in southeast Florida on a northwesterly course toward Lakeland, Fla., with winds at about 145 mph. Two days before the hurricane was to hit,forecasters said the eye of the storm was 30 miles wide, and hurricane-force winds extended about 100 miles.
Frances was in the Caribbean Sea in the Bahama Islands about 500 miles east southeast of Palm Beach on Sept. 2.

The storm follows Hurricane Charley, which made landfall with 145-mph winds Aug. 13 in southwest Florida and destroyed an estimated 20% of the state’s citrus crop in DeSoto, Hardee and Polk counties. Vegetable growers, who had not yet planted, were spared for the most part but many were forced to prepare their fields again following wind damage.

Frances bears down on eastern Florida
Hurricane Frances pounded San Salvador Island Sept. 2, reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.