Hurricane Idalia kills 5 million chickens in Florida’s


SUWANNEE COUNTY — As Hurricane Idalia neared the Apalachee Bay coastline last Tuesday night, John Slone II and his family decided to flee their house in rural McAlpin and take shelter away from the big oaks that surrounded it.

They rode the storm out at his sister’s house in nearby Buckville, which was boarded up and clear of any immediate threat from falling timber. As Idalia knocked down trees across the road, they took bets on which one would fall next.

Once the hurricane passed, the Slones headed back, zigzagging past debris in the the road before arriving to eye-opening destruction on their wooded four acres. Beyond massive, fallen live oaks, a large turkey oak had toppled over onto the house, gouging a jagged hole in one side and flattening the master bedroom.

Hurricane Idalia caused severe damage to farms across Suwannee County, including hay barns on the property of longtime farmers Sammy and Tammy Starling of Dowling Park.

“It could have been worse,” Slone said Thursday as he and his family cleaned up around their house on Highway 129. “It could have been a hole in my head.”

Five million chickens dead as farmers reel from Idalia damage

Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning near Keaton Beach, some 70 miles south of the Slones’ property in Suwannee County, laying waste to parts of the coast with record storm surge and leaving a path of wind destruction well inland.

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