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Sunday - January 31, 2010

From: Pace, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Hurricane Ivan damage from Pace FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My yard on Escambia Bay in NW Florida was stripped of good plants and topsoil by a 4 foot tidal surge in Hurricane Ivan. I have made some plantings, but am just now getting the entire property cleared of storm debris. An old sailboat was pulled out from water's edge at my spring fed pond, leaving a huge eroded gulley. I need to get this filled in and then plant native plants. I can get what's called topsoil here, but it has lots of sand in it, and some brownish dirt. Should I add any fertilizer or mulch to it? Also I'm thinking of using bales of pine straw to hold the edges of the fill dirt from spilling into the pond. My grandson wants to have his outdoor wedding here next September, so need help to get growing!


We are very sorry for the damage you sustained from Hurricane Ivan.In Texas what we are remembering is Hurricane Ike, on September 13, 2008. We gather from this Hurricane Ivan Wikipedia site that Ivan began on Sept. 3, 2004, and looped around and hit Escambia Bay on the backswing. Most of the information we were able to find concerned bridge, road and park damage, including the tidal surge you mentioned. Located in the western end of the Florida Panhandle, I guess you were not far enough north to escape severe damage.

And there is where our knowledge ends. We are specialists in providing information on plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.  We did get a lot of questions regarding tree damage after Hurricane Ike and, at the time, there were government agencies specifically set up to help with property damage and recovery. We were unable to find any such agencies working in Florida, although we are sure there were some. Whether they would still be able to give you some assistance 5-1/2 years after the hurricane, we don't know. What we do know is that this is way out of our field. You need specialists in soils, drainage, protection of your fresh-water pond and hopefully some sort of protection against further similar storms.

Our recommendation is that you seek professional help in determining what measures to need to take to restore your property. This could be landscape consultants, environmental experts, maybe even help from some university programs. Someone with experience and training will need to actually survey the site and help you make plans. A good starting point on where to find such professionals would be the University of Florida Extension Office for Santa Rosa County.


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