San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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March 2nd, 2009
Hays County declares ag drought disaster

Lack of rain has compelled Hays County Judge Liz Sumter to declare a drought disaster Public domain photo.

STAFF REPORT

Hays County Judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) issued a drought disaster declaration Monday due to the ongoing impact to the county’s agricultural producers from the lack of rain.

The declaration begins the process to request assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the state.

“Like much of the state, we’re in a severe drought situation that shows no sign of dissipating soon and our agricultural producers are facing a difficult economic situation because of it,” said Sumter. “This declaration paves the way for the governor’s office to declare Hays County an agricultural disaster area and request aid for agricultural producers from the USDA in the form of low-interest loans.”

Hays County emergency management coordinator Jeff Turner said there has been a 100 percent loss in small grain in the county and ranchers are being forced to sell livestock because of a shortage of hay.

According to the declaration Hays County has received less than half of its normal rainfall during a 14-month period between Jan. 1, 2008 to March 1, 2009.

County officials ask residents to also stay on the lookout for wildfires as the drought shows no signs of lifting.

Hays County is under a burn ban prohibiting all outdoor fires that aren’t in a container with a lid designed to suppress and prevent sparks. Residents should also be careful when welding outdoors, discarding smoking materials and parking vehicles in grassy areas.

“In addition to respecting the burn ban, residents can help lower their risk from fires by ensuring that tinder-like brush is cleared away from houses and other structures, and by being prepared to evacuate an area if directed to do so by emergency officials,” said Hays County Fire Marshal Mark Chambers. “Have an evacuation plan for your family and make sure all family members are familiar with it. Wildfires are very unpredictable, so pay attention to the latest information about where fires actually are.”

For additional information on how to prevent wildfires, along with other emergency and fire preparedness information, go to the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management or the Texas Forest Service website.

For more about the ongoing drought conditions in Hays County and its possible effects, consult this Newstreamz article.

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