Niagara County vegetable crops take a pounding from hail, rain

Niagara County

CAMBRIA, NY (WIVB) — It only took a matter of hours on Tuesday for heavy rain and hail to destroy most of the season’s crops on some famil farms in the Niagara Town of Cambria.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, ever,” said Jeff Hurtgam, whose family has been growing vegetables for 100 years at Hurtgam Farms on Ridge Road in Cambria.

“It breaks my heart,” said Hurtgam, who considers it to be the family’s biggest crop loss in a century. “To put it into perspective, we will have very little cash flow from here on out this year and we’ll still have expenses. I want to keep a couple of my employees going, plus I need to get paid. My mother needs to get paid and it’s gonna be tough to do that.”

Even the vegetables that were on higher ground got pummeled by the hail.

“We got about six inches of rain and four rounds of hail. the first and second round pretty much did us in,” said Kyle Seabert, of Seabert Farms, right up Ridge Road, where hail blasted holes through the peppers which would have been harvested this weekend and sold to places like Tops Markets. The onions are broken at the stems but the beets may have been protected enough underground.

“The whole farm is pretty much wiped out,” said Seabert. “We’re gonna salvage what we can and move forward but right now we’re still trying to piece it all together, you know, fill out the correct paperwork, get the right people involved and then move forward with it, and just take it one day at a time for now.”

Debbie Seabert says the family appreciates the support they’ve received already. “I would just like to thank you to all of our customers for their support and the Facebook posts, for all of their thoughts and prayers and just thanks.”

A GoFundME page has been set up to help the Seabert family get through this year’s crop loss.

In the Town of Lockport, American Red Cross workers visited flood victims in the basement apartments on Robinson Road to help get to the root of what they need, after water mixed with sewage backed up into their apartments on Tuesday night.

“Midnight last night, the Red Cross opened up an emergency congregate shelter at the Rapids Volunteer Fire Department to help support those individuals impacted and currently we are assisting approximately 20 individuals in the recovery process,” according to Meg Rossman, communications director for the American Red Cross of WNY.

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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