While the flooding continues in North Carolina and portions of major highways remain closed, seafood distributors and wholesalers in the state are continuing to make deliveries following Hurricane Matthew's landfall.
“It is challenging to get to some places, but overall, we are getting our orders out. Our drivers are finding ways to do it,” said a source with the Charlotte, N.C, office for Inland Seafood, a major seafood distributor based in Atlanta.
Major portions of Interstate 95 and Interstate 40 are still closed, causing headaches for seafood deliveries to restaurants and retailers. And some businesses along the N.C. coast were without power until 11 October and 12 October.
“We were spared with the winds, but with all that water coming in – and rivers at a record high –we dealing with the aftermath,” said Lin Peterson, co-owner of Raleigh, N.C.-based Locals Seafood, a wholesaler, retailer and community supported fishery (CSF). “We just focus on seafood off the N.C. coast, so we are really affected when this happens.”
Locals’ typical seafood volume is down around 1,500 pounds since the hurricane.
Not having farmed oysters, in particular, harms Locals’ business. “Farmed oysters had definitely picked up quite a bit. Right now, we buy from six different growers of oysters. But, for the whole last month, there has been so much rain that it shut everybody down.”
Hampstead, N.C.-based Atlantic Seafood Retail Market lost power for a few hours but had a backup generator. However, the wholesaler and retailer is still making most of its deliveries. “We couldn’t get to two customers because the water was too high where they were at,” said Kim Parker, a manager at Atlantic.
Meanwhile, Locals’ fishermen did not suffer boat damage, and the company did not lose inventory from power outages. “There was a lot of rain and power outages in the area. Fortunately, we loaded up with a bunch of fish before the storm, and had a good week of deliveries,” Peterson said.
Like Inland, Locals’ drivers are using back roads and finding other ways to deliver to restaurants and retail customers that include Whole Foods Market.
Now, with clear weather, some fishermen and shrimpers are back on the water. “Our shrimper is catching shrimp on Wednesday, and are fishermen with nets are getting flounder, red drum, blues and others,” Peterson said.
“We are hoping to get a variety of N.C. fish in by the weekend,” added the Inland Seafood source.
In South Carolina, most oyster and clam farmers “rode out the storm well,” said Julie Davis, living marine resources extension specialist for the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium in Beaufort, S.C.
“Advance planning has a lot to do with not having a lot of damage. The worst of the storm hit at high tide and with surge, so that meant gear was submerged and therefore not susceptible to getting tossed around by waves,” Davis said. “There is some land-based damage and clean up to do, but I am not hearing of anything major yet.”
However, shellfish harvesting remains closed in South Carolina until the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) can test the waters to determine if the waters are safe for harvest.