Hurricane Irma leads to historic flower shortage for local florists Add New Topic

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    They did not get all the details right but it is sign of the times

    Getting married anytime in the near future? There’s a good chance you’re going to have to change your flower arrangements.

    Local florists are reporting access to their flower supply has been severely disrupted due to Hurricane Irma, which battered Florida over the weekend and left the state’s sea ports damaged and without power.

    Janice Lagzdins, owner of Banner Flower House in Kokomo, said up to 85 percent of flowers in the U.S. are shipped from South America. That number jumps to nearly 100 percent for roses, carnations and palms.

    All those flowers are shipped to ports in Miami, Florida. But after last weekend’s hurricane, ships could no longer dock anywhere in Miami. Even if they could, trucking routes out of the state have been cut off because of storm damage.

    That’s all lead to an historic flower shortage for U.S. floral shops.

    Dave Baird, co-owner of Webster Florist in Peru, said he’s worked in the industry for 57 years, and he’s never seen such a massive disruption to the U.S. flower supply.

    “This hurricane probably has had the most effect on the quality, quantity and types of flowers we can get that I’ve ever seen,” he said Friday. “It’s been very limited on colors and the amounts. I know some wholesalers just got some stuff in today, but it’s an extremely limited supply.”

    Lagzdins agreed. She said in her more than 20 years at Banner Flower, she’s dealt with small disruptions in the flower supply, but nothing on this scale.

    “Most other disruptions you can cope with,” she said. “You can change your shipper, but this was so massive. I guess you just have to go with flow.”

    And so do their clients. Lagzdins said her shop is providing floral arrangements for two large weddings this weekend. The flowers were ordered and had already arrived in Florida. But the shipment never arrived because the trucks couldn’t get out of the state.

    “These were all ordered for the wedding and they were shipped for the wedding, but those shipments are stuck in Miami,” she said. “The brides we are working with have been exceedingly understanding. Everyone is bending over backwards to make everything happen on schedule.”

    For Banner Flower, that means working with four distributors who are trying to scrounge up the requested flowers from other locations from around the U.S. and all over the world. But it’s slim picking, Lagzdins said.

    And all the effort trying to track down flowers has doubled her workload.

    “You’re on the horn all the time trying to track down your stuff,” Lagzdins said. “This has been the most stress that I can remember. First, you’ve got friends in the disaster areas you’re worrying about, then you’re worrying about the people who you have obligations to for flowers.”

    Webster Florist’s Baird said not only is it hard to find flowers, but the price could also skyrocket because of the shortage. That’s especially true for leather leaf, the most inexpensive filler plant used in floral arrangements.

    For area shops, Florida is the sole supplier of the plant, but the entire crop has been wiped out because of flooding. Baird said industry experts anticipate there won’t be any available until November or December. That means the price could jump by up to 40 percent for the widely used filler plant.

    He said his shop has been able to cope fairly well so far because it’s been a slow week, but the lack of flowers and pending price spike could take a toll on his business.

    Lagzdins said she’s already warned around 10 brides who have weddings planned in the next few weeks that their floral arrangements will likely have to be altered.

    “We haven’t had one person who has objected to anything we’ve had to do,” she said. “That’s a blessing.”

    Although the hurricane has put a wrinkle in the flower business, Lagzdins said, it doesn’t compare the damage growers in South America and distributors in Florida are facing. She said last weekend’s storm is sure to dampen business for the entire flower industry in those places.

    “It’s just tragic for these people in South America who have gorgeous flowers,” Lagzdins said. “Flowers are so perishable that by the time they get another means to ship them, it’s too late. This has been a little blip for us, but it’s a huge tragedy for those folks.”

    To help out, Banner Flower is accepting donations of water, diapers, wipes, blankets and other items to provide hurricane relief in Florida. The items can be dropped off at the shop at 1017 S. Buckeye Street.

    Baird said with storm cleanup well underway in Miami, it’s now a waiting game on when the flower supply will return to normal, but he hopes it’s soon.

    “Once things get put back together, as long as the ports can get ships in and the trucking lines can be restored, there shouldn’t be any problem,” he said. “But we’ll find out next week how bad the trickle-down effect will have on us.”

    Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.



    They did get A LOT of the details wrong – my mother (Janice) read the article after speaking with the reporter on the phone and was very surprised by the things she “said”. I assume Mr. Baird probably feels the same as she 🙂

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