Prolonged drought still affecting many in Green Country

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Updated: 3/22/2013 8:55 am Published: 3/21/2013 7:51 pm

Right now, the weekend forecast calls for rain, and that is exactly what Oklahoma needs. 

The state’s latest drought maps, released this week, show all of Green Country still in the midst of a prolonged drought.

Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox has been responding to natural disasters like grass fires for a quarter of a century. He says because of this year and a half drought, his office has had to change the way they do things.

“We’ve implemented a county-wide fire response plan, something that we’ve worked on for several years,” he explained.

So far in 2013, he hasn’t lobbied for a burn ban, but if things stay dry that could change.

“The biggest problem is the amount of vegetation and the dryness of that vegetation and then the ambient weather conditions at the time,” Cox told FOX23.

The ambient weather conditions he is referring to are low humidity, high winds, and little precipitation.

He’s crossing his fingers that the clouds break over the next few days

“We’re hoping for those rainstorms.”

And his hoping the rain keeps falling.

“We need a long term solution to this. A single rainstorm is not going to bring us out of a drought. We need to get those weather patterns back to something normal.”

The drought is also affecting farmers like Bill and Paula Jacobs who have  owned the Owasso Christmas Tree and Berry Farm for 25 years.

“We've never had anything like this in my past history,” Bill Jacobs said,

Oklahoma's drought has left the Jacobs’ bottom line scorched.

“The best year we ever had, we harvested 20,000 pounds of berries, and the last few years it's been half that maybe 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of berries.”

Fewer berries means fewer dollars. The drought has also stunted the growth of his winter crop Virginia Pines.

“You cannot water them enough to get normal growth, so the trees will be shorter maybe a foot, two feet, three feet.”

The berry bushes are about three weeks away from their first bloom, and Bill has kept a positive attitude.

“I am hopeful, yes. I keep thinking it's going to rain more.”

When it does rain, he's says it will take more than a sprinkle to quench a thirst, that has its roots in a drought that began more than two years ago.

“Ideally year, we'd have a nice shower an inch and a half every week, all summer. That'd be a dream.”

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