Georgia's summer: Hot, dry, grazed by Republican feud over hurricane relief funding

By David Pendered

The start of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season finds Georgia facing ever-increasing dry conditions, even as Republicans have gotten personal in the battle over federal relief for Hurricane Michael – a record delay of 34 weeks after the storm.

patronis ad

This ad is posted on the Twitter page of Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis and an independent committee paid to have it appear in a Texas newspaper to challenge the vote by Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy to block a $19.1 billion hurricane relief bill that would have helped Florida and other states damaged by natural disasters. Credit: twitter.com/JimmyPatronis

Florida’s Republican CFO appears in an in-your-face newspaper ad and Twitter post targeting Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy for blocking the $19.1 billion funding bill the Senate has passed and which President Trump has said he would sign. The May 28 ad says it was paid for by an independent committee and it states:

  • “When Texas was hit by Hurricane Harvey, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis and a group of friends went to Beaumont Texas to help. He served Texans with his own time and money. After Hurricane Michael, Chip Rogers served himself with a political stunt that prevented relief to the suffering victims in Florida.”

These climatic and political conditions create their own headwinds for the hurricane preparedness messages sent May 31 by Georgia’s two senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.

Both Georgia senators recommended that Georgians download a free mobile Ready Georgia app and follow the suggestions of entities including the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.

“As we learned from Hurricane Michael last fall, preparedness can save lives,” Isakson said in a statement. “Please stay alert and heed the advice of state and local officials as hurricane season approaches.”

While the senators are looking ahead to the hurricane season that started June 1, the state is in an abnormally dry weather pattern.

More than 90 percent of the state is at least abnormally dry; almost 1.4 million Georgians reside in these areas, representing more than 1 in 10 of the state’s population.

This is the breakdown since the start of the year, according to the May 30 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor:

Abnormally Dry

Drought Monitor, may 28, 2019

A rapidly growing portion of Georgia is under weather conditions that are considered at least abnormally dry. Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

  • Start of year: 0 percent
  • Current: 92.6 percent.

Moderate Drought

  • Start of year: 0 percent
  • Current: 30.2 percent.

Bleckley County is among the worst hit by dry conditions this year. Located southeast of Macon, half of Bleckley County is in a drought and the remainder is abnormally dry.

Cole Moon, county’s extension agent from the University of Georgia, submitted this report that was distributed by the federal government’s crop harvest and condition report:

  • “Extreme temperatures and lack of rain started to show in the fields. Farmers stopped planting any dry land and are having to water up irrigation land. We reached a critical time in corn production at pollination and silking, and water is critical. I heard from many growers who cannot keep the pivot going fast enough to keep moisture in their corn fields. We are very close to finishing up planting. If we could catch a rain, we would probably be done within a week. Wheat harvest continued and will be over very soon.”

Meanwhile, rain threatens the already wet areas of southeast Texas and Louisiana.

A storm in the Gulf of Mexico could become tropical storm Barry in the coming days. The storm remains disorganized, in the Bay of Campeche that’s south of Texas. The National Hurricane Center advises that it may become a tropical cyclone before moving inland by Wednesday and bringing downpours to southeast Texas and Louisiana.

 

More than eight months after Hurricane Michael arrived, some residents of Panama City, Fl. continue to drag debris from their former homes out to the curb for pickup and removal. Credit: David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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