Smith Gardens Inc. is recovering from a tornado that caused major damage last Thursday afternoon (October 12, 2017) at its greenhouse growing facility in Aurora, Oregon. Most of the damage was structural; less than 2 percent of crops were lost, and no one at the nursery was injured. Although there is a lot of cleanup work still ahead, the company expects to be able to ship all its orders.
“Seven of the 14 glass greenhouses sustained damage,” said Wes Bailey, general manager of the location. “We are still getting a count of all the glass that needs to be replaced. So far, we have identified more than 3,500 pieces of glass from the roofs and sidewalls that need to be replaced. Structural damage was found in at least three houses, and our shade structure in the field was twisted up into a pretzel.”
In a stroke of good fortune, the two houses that sustained the heaviest damage were empty of plants and workers because they were undergoing renovation.
“We were blessed that there were zero injuries through the incident,” Bailey said. “We were very fortunate for that.”
The company was forced to relocate more than 100,000 poinsettias to houses that are more protected.
“Rick and Elizabeth Peters from the Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium were here on Saturday all day helping move poinsettias – greatly appreciated,” Bailey said. “We had a number of people from the industry reach out asking if they could help or support.”
Canby Excavating has also helped the company with dirt work, drainage work, sweeping up glass and general cleanup. “They have worked for us on a number of projects around the property,” Bailey said. “When they heard of the damage to the facility, they offered to come with any equipment and operators needed to help with clean up. Having companies like that willing to drop everything and come out in a time of need is greatly appreciated.”
The tornado was well publicized, as it upturned two small airplanes that were parked at Aurora State Airport, which is located across Highway 551 from Smith Gardens. Several local TV stations came out to report on the damage at Smith Gardens and the airport.