Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Feds Declare Texas "A Disaster", Have Been Waiting to Say That for Years

Texas is on fire, and not in an omigod-we're-going-to-the-championship-game way. Today, President Obama and U.S. Department of Agriculture designated the entire state a "natural disaster area" due to the extreme conditions. Many farmers have lost their entire crop because of drought and wildfires. This is bad news for everyone, unless you hate avocados, oranges, and pecans - Texas is second in the country in agricultural production. The Austin-American Statesman writes:
The state just endured its driest eight-month span ever— ending May 31 — and some parts have not seen significant precipitation since August, prompting drastic drops in lake and underground water levels. Burn bans are in place in 235 of the state's 254 counties and nearly 260 water suppliers, most around the San Antonio area, have either voluntary or mandatory restrictions on water use. May, typically the state's wettest month, did little to alleviate the problem, yielding less than half its average rainfall with an estimated 1.65 inches. The state is also enduring its worst wildfire season ever. More than 3 million acres have been scorched by the blazes that have not spared even the more humid East Texas region.

The combination of high temperatures, windy conditions and lack of rainfall is delivering a giant "Fffff YOU" to the entire state, and now it's threatening the neighbors.

The Agriculture Department designated 213 of Texas' counties directly affected by drought as disaster areas, and the remaining 41 also qualified for assistance because they are contiguous. Thirty-two counties in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico also garnered the designation because they are adjacent to Texas counties.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release, "President Barack Obama and I want these farmers and ranchers to know that we will support them through the recovery process and help them once again become productive suppliers of food, fiber and fuel that keep America prospering. This designation will help provide that support."

Money helps the farmers, but there really isn't much that anyone can do about the land until we get some rain up in here. I'm hoping that pumping tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere helps, since we're already so good at that and adamant about continuing to do so. Guess we'll just have to heed the governor's advice to pray about it.

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