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U.S. Sugar harvest delayed by Hurricane Ian, instead workers cleanup on FGCU campus

Tom James

A different flood hit the FGCU campus in Hurricane Ian's wake.

A sea of orange-vested workers from U.S. Sugar washed over the heavily wooded campus Friday and Saturday helping to pick up debris strewn about by Ian's winds.

"We farm in the center of the state and we actually had some impacts from Ian," Ryan Duffy, U.S. Sugar director of corporate communications, said. "We actually were supposed to start our harvest today, but because of Hurricane Ian it's going to be delayed into early next week."

Duffy said Ian dropped 6-8 inches of rain on the sugar cane fields.

"There was significant water," he said, adding the hope is that by next week things will dry enough for the harvest to begin.

Michael Braun
Workers from U.S. Sugar help clear debris from FGCU Boulevard on the FGCU campus on Saturday. U.S. Sugar's harvest, scheduled to start Saturday, was delayed until early next week due to Hurricane Ian allowing workers to help out on campus.

Duffy said the men scouring FGCU Boulevard, picking up everything from whole branches to small stems, were members of the harvest workforce who came to help clear the campus so students could return sooner rather than later.

"We were asked to come help and get students safely back to FGCU," Duffy said. "That's why we're here today. Normally, we'd be harvesting."

Duffy said the request for assistance came via informal conversations between U.S. Sugar and FGCU.

The work began with a smaller crew on Friday with a larger crew showing up Saturday.

Mike Cameron, a U.S. Sugar manager, was with the ground crew on campus, directing a collection of heavy machinery hauling the collected debris away.

"We're up here helping out," he said.

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