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Hurricane Irma Sparks Rescue Mission for Rare Wines

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An emergency rescue team has been deployed to save expensive wine collections

When news broke that the catastrophic and deadly Hurricane Irma would begin slamming Florida this weekend, some residents hired emergency response teams to safely evacuate their expensive wine collections.

According to Reuters, by Thursday, more than 20,000 rare bottles of wine worth as much as $5,000,000 had been rescued from homes in Florida and Louisiana. Some of the bottles are over 100 years old. They’ve been moved out of the path of the storm to safe warehouses and temperature-controlled storage facilities, some of them several states away from Florida.

Professional wine transportation company Xpeditr offered its “Emergency Response Team” to rescue expensive bottles from cellars, attics, vaults, and other places, and get them into safe and temperature-controlled storage facilities before the storm hit.

CEO Adam Gungle said the Emergency Response Team was created in 2012, after Tropical Storm Sandy destroyed some very rare wine collections.

"The wrath of a hurricane can ruin delicate pieces of liquid history," Xpeditr CEO Adam Gungle told Reuters. "Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Sandy ruined tens of millions of dollars worth of fine wine. A lot of these bottles survived World War I, World War II.”

Wine cellars are at risk from hurricanes because temperature controls might fail in the event of a power outage. Flooding can make water get into corks or labels peel off bottles. With some bottles worth more than $100,000, many owners were eager to get someone to collect them bottles and take them to safety.

Gungle said some of his clients had lost fortunes in wines that were destroyed during other hurricanes.

Hurricane Irma is the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade. Before hitting Florida, it killed at least 23 people in the Caribbean and devastated Cuba and Barbuda. Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm a “life-threatening situation,” and said the state state has never seen anything like it.

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