AFTERMATH – by B.L. Bruigom copyright 2005
With an unprecedented four hurricanes running over Florida the state still faces many problems and challenges for recovery.
The news coverage keeps us updated on the human aspects such as the areas labeled "blue tarp" communities. Named for the number of roofs still covered by the tarpaulins after these many months. Few however take seriously the impact all this has had on nature.
For nature the hurricanes hit at the absolute worst time. Trees and bushes were all setting fruit, nuts, berries and seeds - all the diet staples, for the migratory animals and birds that come in the winter months. Not to mention our own indigenous wildlife.
My home was damaged in Frances and finished off by Jeanne forcing a move. At the new location I had a seed feeder out for over two months, yet not a single bird or squirrel came to eat. I would dump the seed regularly, expecting that small mammals and rodents would clean the ground, but nothing. All these animals exist for a properly balanced ecosystem.
Many areas are now sterile like mine. Others can’t keep enough food in their feeders. A friend recently told me of huge flocks of robins (not common even in winter) circling her home for hours as they dive in and out of her feeders.
From the high winds citrus canker has spread into two counties. Not only endangering crops, but also setting Florida up for a tremendous hit to one of our largest income sources.
Unbelievably these things may not be the greatest danger to face Florida now. It is our dry season, a season where fires are easily started by the flick of a careless cigarette or kids with too much time on their hands. Fires that will burn and destroy thousands of acres leaving even more destruction.
In the aftermath of the hurricanes there are too many trees still uprooted, bark lays stripped from winds or trees fallen over, rubbing against each other. All this leaves the trees extremely susceptible to insects and disease. Remember here in Florida our termites, carpenter ants, fleas and ticks live year round. We never get cold enough for dormancy. Dead, dry brush litters the ground in some places a foot deep.
Is there hope? Of course there is. Over time animals will spread out, the ash from fires will fertilize new life and nature will renew itself. The only question is just how long it will take.