Local News

Drought-related disaster declared in 59 counties

Posted November 10, 2008 9:55 a.m. EST
Updated November 10, 2008 10:12 a.m. EST

— Crop losses caused by drought and extreme heat led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare 59 North Carolina counties as disaster areas.

Gov. Mike Easley had asked for the disaster declaration on Oct. 3 because of excessive agricultural losses for at least one major crop and significant losses on corn, soybeans, hay and pasture and other forage crops.

“While most parts of the state have now recovered from the drought, that does not change the fact that many of our farmers suffered crop losses due to drought for two straight years, and they need help to recover,“ Easley said in a statement.

The 59 counties included in the disaster declaration are:

Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Beaufort, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Cherokee, Chowan, Clay, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Gates, Graham, Greene, Haywood, Henderson, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Lenoir, Macon, Madison, Martin, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Robeson, Rockingham, Rutherford, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Tyrrell, Washington , Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, Wilson and Yadkin.

The declaration makes farms eligible to be considered for U.S. Farm Service Agency assistance, such as low-interest emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

Under USDA rules, 37 counties that border those in the disaster area also are covered by the declaration. Those counties are:

Alamance, Alexander, Anson, Bertie, Bladen, Camden, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cumberland, Dare, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lincoln, Mitchell, Montgomery, Moore, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan, Stokes, Union, Wake, Warren and Yancey.

Easley also called for residents to continue water conservation efforts, especially in western North Carolina, which has not experienced the drought recovery seen in other parts of the state.

The latest report from the state Drought Management Advisory Council shows four western North Carolina counties in exceptional drought, the worst level of the five drought categories. Clay, Jackson, Macon and Transylvania counties slipped back into exceptional drought because most stream-flow measurements are at or near record lows.

“Autumn is usually one of our driest times of the year, so there is little chance of getting enough rain to pull these counties out of the drought before hot weather and increased water demands return next year,” Easley said. “Conditions could get worse before they improve, so in western North Carolina especially, people should be saving water wherever they can.”

In addition to the four counties in exceptional drought, 10 counties are in extreme drought, 13 are in severe drought, 29 are in a moderate drought and 17 are considered abnormally dry. Abnormally dry conditions indicate that drought is not present but could return without adequate rainfall.