Texas Declared a Natural Disaster

    This March 25, 2011 photo shows a dry river bed at Big Bend National Park along the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas, where it has not rained since September 2010. The amount of Texas land classified in one of the worst drought categories more than tripled in one month.

    Mike Grazcyk / AP Photo

    Somehow the climate didn’t get that memo about not messing with Texas. With an extreme drought afflicting large swaths of the South, the federal government has designated 254 counties—the entire state—to be a natural disaster, which qualifies them for federal aid funding. So far, this year only ranks as the state’s third-worst drought, but it’s closing in on the top two. Estimated losses may already exceed the 2006 record of $4.1 billion. “We’ve had over two million acres of dry land cotton being declared 100 percent abandoned…It’s just a dreadful set of circumstances,” said Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples.

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