TAMPA, FLA. — For the second straight year, Ardent Mills avoided hurricane damage at its recently built flour mill at Port Redwing on the east side of Tampa Bay.
Hurricane Idalia, which skirted Florida’s western coastline on Aug. 29 and 30 before making landfall as a category 3 storm in the northern part of the state, caused flooding in the Tampa area but the Ardent Mills facility, which is located several hundred yards from the bay, did not sustain any damage, an Ardent Mills spokesperson said.
Kelley Kaiser, external communications manager at Ardent Mills, said the company shut down the Port Redwing facility in advance of the hurricane to ensure the safety and well-being of its team members.”
“We continue to communicate with team members and customers to ensure their safety and feel very fortunate that there is no major impact,” she said.
Mr. Kaiser said the mill, which never lost power despite the high winds, heavy rains and peak water surge at high tide, resumed operations Wednesday night (Aug. 30).
“Port Redwing was designed to withstand Florida’s volatile weather, most notably hurricanes,” Ms. Kaiser said.
The mill was built 12 feet above sea level on the first floor, 2 feet higher than the 10-foot guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the company said. Additionally, all wheat stored on the property is situated above ground and hurricane-rated doors were stalled on the exterior of the plant.
The facility also dodged a bullet last September when Hurricane Ian, a category 4 storm that most forecasters predicted would make landfall in the Tampa area, unexpectedly veered east into Fort Myers in southwest Florida, causing billions of dollars of damage and killing more than 100.
Ardent Mills opened the Port Redwing mill, which has daily production capacity of 17,500 cwts, in March 2022. It replaced a mill located inland that the company sold in 2018 to the city of Tampa.
Built at a cost of over $100 million, the mill is situated on a CSX rail line and also can receive wheat by ocean vessel.