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Florence causes concerns for Virginia Tech Agriculture research centers statewide

Eastern Shore Research Center already evacuated

BLACKSBURG – Potential flooding could be devastating to crops across the commonwealth. Virginia Tech has concerns not only for valuable research property in Blacksburg, but around the state.

Florence is a potential hard hit to the agriculture sector, and farming is one of Virginia's top industries. For Virginia Tech, it's one of their specialties, stretching far beyond Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech spokesperson Mark Owczarski said they’ve been preparing and monitoring the storm for more than a week.

"All of our locations we are concerned about because this is a major storm and we really don't know where it's going to go,” Owczarski said. "When you have a storm like Florence coming through and you are trying to anticipate the impact on Virginia Tech, though you might instinctively think of Blacksburg, we are thinking across the state."

Similar to research and work that's happening at Kentland farms in Blacksburg, there are other research sites across the state known as agricultural research and extension centers which are credited for research that touches every sector of Virginia's economy.

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There are 11 AREC’s across the state of Virginia, totaling about 4,300 acres of property. Research done at those sites more than just benefits Virginia Tech students and staff, it benefits the entire state and even the U.S.

Some of those staff were forced to close as early as Monday.

"Our Virginia Seafood Center that's located right on the Eastern shore-that closed Monday when Gov. Northam ordered mandatory evacuations for communities subject to the costal surge,” Owczarski said.

Despite valuable research at risk, Owczarski said safety comes first.

"We are going to head the safety of people, pack up our research if we can, take the facilities and the equipment that we can protect."

He said Virginia Tech will continue to monitor the storm and make plans and adjustments as necessary.
 


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