Posts Tagged ‘Drought’

Flooding in Kentucky, Drought in Texas

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Louisville, Kentucky was flooded when a storm left the area with more than seven inches of rain, resulting in flash flooding, and power outages. Thankfully, no casualties or serious injuries resulted from the storm, but the rainfall overwhelmed the area’s public infrastructure and caused major disruptions to local small businesses. The mayor of Louisville estimates that the main library sustained $1 million in damages when flooding destroyed books. Firemen led water rescue efforts for people stranded as animal shelters evacuated animals to minimize casualties due to drowning.

At the same time, Texas is experiencing a severe drought with 100-degree temperatures in an area that includes Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.  As a result, mandatory water restrictions have been imposed on 230 Texas public water systems, which prohibit practices such as watering lawns or refilling swimming pools.  It bears repeating; prepare for the more frequent disasters, such as drought and flash flooding, as such measures will yield a more immediate benefit against a more imminent threat at more reasonable cost.

Texas Experiences the Worst Drought in Its History

Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Post-Katrina, Less Bureaucratic Pencil-Pushing

Post-Katrina, Less Bureaucratic Pencil-Pushing

According to a statement issued by the Office of the Governor of Texas, Governor Rick Perry “requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture provide disaster relief assistance for Texas farms and ranches that have suffered economic and physical losses as a result of severe drought conditions. If Perry’s statewide request is approved, qualified farm operators in all Texas counties will be eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the USDA. The agency also offers additional programs, such as technical assistance, to eligible farmers.” This is most severe drought on record, affecting Texas Hill Country in the South-Central part of the State from San Antonio and Austin; 60% of the beef cows in Texas are in the counties with conditions defined as “severe to exceptional drought”. This only adds to the pain of businesses that have already suffered losses from the economic recession. Texas is the country’s largest cattle-producing state and has already lost close to $1 billion because of the continuing drought.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought conditions also exist across other areas of Texas and much of the southwestern United States, threatening water supplies and farmers in rapidly-growing urban areas. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought emergency, urging local communities to impose conservation measures to reduce water consumption by 20 percent.

For small-scale farmers, the government assistance programs can be confusing. The Small Business Administration (“SBA”) does not underwrite agricultural loans. For the purposes of SBA’s 7(a) program, a small farm may be considered a small business, but for the purpose of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, it is not. After Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had to re-write its rules so that it could respond to the needs of small-scale farmers, particularly in the aftermath of a major disaster. It would certainly make government programs more efficient and transparent if the agencies could develop uniform applications.