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Nearly 30 growers affected

Whirlwind damage in Westland estimated at ten million

In recent days, the size of the damage caused by a whirlwind that hit part of the Westland last week on Thursday, became increasingly clear. The images of the whirlwind, or rather the devastation it left behind, are plain as day: a number of growers got the full blast. Some had a few broken windows, and the growers around them had a lucky escape. All in all, “nearly thirty companies have suffered damages,” according to Joke Vreugdenhil on behalf of Rampendienst Westland, an organisation that offers relief when disaster hits horticulturalists in the Westland. 

Photo: Facebook @4Evergreen. The photo clearly shows how the whirlwind hit the greenhouses.
Ten million
Dutch insurance company Interpolis is assessing the damage. Last Friday, a helicopter flew over the afflicted area, and the extent became more or less clear, but mapping it precisely takes more time. “It takes time, because you can conclude glass is broken when flying over it, but taking one photograph doesn’t make it clear how much damage was suffered inside the greenhouses,” according to Adri Witlox, spokesperson for the company. “But a first, rough estimate can now be made. Our assessors estimate total damages to be around ten million euro. And mind you, that’s an estimate: in some cases it’s not yet clear if a cultivation can still be harvested, or if a crop should be considered lost.”

For that matter, it’s small wonder no bodily harm has been reported. Joke heard of the occasional cut as a result of glass flying around, but nobody was seriously injured.

Emergency wall
Both vegetable and ornamental plant growers have been hit. The photos from aubergine nursery Van Onselen were seen throughout the country. The whirlwind destroyed a large part of the greenhouse – but not the entire crop is lost. An emergency wall of 200 metres by 5 metres has been placed. Last Friday, the men from DoekenDraad.nl started. “It’s a temporary measure, a screen cloth wall to keep the cold out as much as possible. We hung it underneath the crop wires and finished it nicely,” says Cees van der Kaaij. They started at ten in the morning last Friday, and finished early in the afternoon. “The cultivation in another part of the greenhouse can continue as planned, at least. Fortunately we had materials available to respond to what happened – after all, insurance companies also ask growers to show they are doing everything possible to limit damages. And we did.”

The emergency wall for Van Onselen, which the company shared on Twitter. Please click here for a drone-video over the greenhouse, put on Twitter by Arjan van Onselen.

Yes and no
Is plenty of glass available? According to Luciën Knetemann from Glasimport Greenhouses that is the case. There’s always an area of tension between grower and supplier, Luciën knows: For the first it naturally cannot arrive early enough, and if the glass doesn’t arrive today it must mean it’s not available. A supplier like Glasimport looks at the market, sees it’s available and calculates how much and how long, and therefore knows: ‘it is available.’  

Photo: Facebook @4Evergreen

As a result of the whirlwind, Decorum made a press release, in which afflicted growers were offered a helping hand. The organisation properly mapped who has what in stock, so that in case of emergencies, actions can swiftly be taken. It was decided to also make this combined stock available to non-Decorum members because of the whirlwind. The association received various responses from growers, who made their own inventories, according to Erik van Dijk.

Peter Post, Interpolis, flew over the area with a helicopter on Friday. These photos also clearly show the path of destruction caused by the whirlwind.

Please click here for last Friday’s article for more information and photos (article in Dutch).

Publication date: 9/21/2017


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