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Crops, People Prepped Again For A Cold Night

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MIAMI (CBS4) -Juanita Alvarez has settled in for a long cold night outside.

She wants to be one of the first in line for Wednesday morning’s annual food give-a-way, sponsored by the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re surviving. Everybody brought coffee and something hot to eat. We cover up very well, sot it’s no problem,” she says.

She is joined by about a dozen other people, braving the frigid temperatures, most of them are unemployed or on a fixed income and depend on the food give-a-way.

“It helps out for the family during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” says Alvarez.

“It’s pretty cool, the help that they give you and I appreciate them, “ says Antonio Rodriquez.

Meantime, South Florida farmers are also settling in for a long night. If the temperatures dip to record lows it could be disastrous.

The agricultural industry in Miami-Dade produces roughly $3 billion a year in business. Temperatures in January 2010 were roughly where they are Tuesday and forecasted for Tuesday night.

That freeze caused nearly $300 million in losses. Tuesday’s forecasted lows are in the mid to low 30’s and it’s not even officially winter yet. Winter starts on December 21, 2010.

“It’s very nerve-wracking,” said farmer Tom Vick. “We’ve got so much invested out in the fields. We’ve done everything we can as far as getting prepared for it. Now it’s just Mother Nature’s turn.”

Vick has suffered through freezing problems before this year. During January’s freeze, his tomato crops were literally frozen solid.

“It was very devastating,” Vick said. “We never really came back from last year’s cold weather.”

Farmers said they can handle a little bit of freezing temperatures. The amount of damage done will be based on the duration of the cold temperatures. If it’s any lengthy period of time, it could prove devastating.

Farmers also hope the winds keep moving because it will help keep the cold air from sitting over the area, which will help the crops survive.

But it’s not just the weather in South Florida that has many concerned. If the cold air does damage to crops in the central part of the state; it could be devastating to the entire state’s winter agricultural season.

As the temperatures continue to drop, farmers across South Florida continue to run their irrigations systems to freeze the plants ahead of time to protect them from the cold.

To keep yourself and your family safe during this latest cold snap, it’s important to remember the ‘Four Ps’.

Protect yourself and your family with warm clothes.
Protect your pets – bring them inside.
Protect your plants – bring them inside or cover them up.
Protect your property – use proper precautions with space or indoor heaters.

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