Extreme Heat and Storms Continue to Impact Texas; Bret Erickson and Mayra Vazquez Discuss

Extreme Heat and Storms Continue to Impact Texas; Bret Erickson and Mayra Vazquez Discuss

Sponsored Message
Learn More

TEXAS - There are a lot of sayings about the tenacity of Texas, and while Mother Nature is certainly testing this the fresh produce industry is working hard to showcase that credo. With some regions of the state seeing torrential storms, others are seeing extreme heat, and the boots on the ground are responding to it all.

Bret Erickson, Executive Vice President of Business Affairs, Little Bear Produce

“We have had some crazy weather across the state the last few weeks. The Houston and Southeast Texas region have received torrential rainfall and flooding over the last few weeks, with reports of over 30-plus inches of rain in some of those areas, plus terrible winds, tornadoes and hail. In deep South Texas we have been pummeled by severe heat and high humidity with no chance of rainfall for the foreseeable future—last week we hit a high temp of 111° F in McAllen, with a feel of 117,” Bret Erickson, Executive Vice President of Business Affairs for Edinburg, Texas-based Little Bear Produce, explained.

For Little Bear, Bret shared it has been very challenging to get the melon crop harvested in such extreme heat. While the weather is tough on the fruit and vines directly, he pointed out that, worse still, it is very dangerous for harvesters.

From torrential storms to extreme heat, produce operators are working to mitigate the impact in Texas

“It's slow-going, with lots of breaks and regular hydration for the crews. The reservoirs that feed our south Texas region are also at historically low levels and the extreme high heat accelerates the evaporation rates, leading to a faster decline in water supplies. I think all the farmers and cities in South Texas wish we could capture some of the torrential rains that have fallen in the Houston and Southeast Texas regions,” Bret reflects, echoing a sentiment Californians have certainly shared amid fire season in previous years.

Mayra Vazquez, Business Development/Sales for Latin Specialties, has seen the other side of the recent weather challenges. With a facility directly in Houston, she and her team have quite literally been in the eye of the storm.

Mayra Vazquez, Business Development/Sales, Latin Specialties

“It has been a tough week for Houston without a doubt. The area has been at a standstill since the day of the storm on May 16,” she shared. “These straight-line winds can last for several minutes, which are more damaging than a tornado. This morning the city has reported 98 percent of power is back, leaving approximately 20K customers without a definitive date on when their equipment will be repaired. The food industry suffered as many restaurants and grocery stores lost power, forcing everyone to clear out their inventory. Our company was happy to assist in the recovery efforts by offering local distribution to those in need as we always do during the natural disasters we encounter in this city every year it seems like.”

It has been reported that hurricane-force winds reached up to 100 mph in certain parts of the city. This, Mayra reminded me, comes on the heels of severe flooding up north in Kingwood about three weeks prior. As a local, Mayra herself got power back at home late the night of May 22, six days after the storm.

She detailed for me how this was not just devastating to operations, but to locals who had no choice but to pay high prices at hotels when home temperatures climbed to 90° F.

It has been reported that hurricane-force winds reached up to 100 mph in certain parts of the city of Houston

“Businesses and homes were reduced to piles of debris around town with uprooted trees falling on houses and shattered glass from skyscrapers in the downtown area. Hurricane season is right around the corner, so hopefully we will be fully recovered from all the weather disasters Mother Nature has had in our city,” she said.

With relief reports still coming in, AndNowUKnow will continue to report. Until then, our thoughts are with all who make up the close-knit network that is the fresh produce industry.

Companies in this Story

Little Bear Produce

For our company, Little Bear Produce, the goals of quality products and service are first and foremost. That’s why we…