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Scorched, Dry Dixie Asks U.S. for Assistance

July 18, 1986|From Associated Press

Officials of parched Southern states turned to the federal government, Midwestern farmers and neighbors Thursday for help in feeding livestock during a record drought that has turned pasture land to dust.

No relief was forecast for the heat wave blamed for 14 deaths as it spread into the Midwest.

Highs in the mid to upper 90s were reported Thursday from Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio to North Carolina and northern Florida. The temperature in downtown Columbia, S.C., reached 100 for the 12th straight day.

'Grasping at Straws'

"There is a glimmer of hope that by early or middle of next week there may be a frontal system in the area," said meteorologist Jim Brackett in Raleigh, N.C. "That's grasping at straws, though. I don't want to encourage people too much about the prospects."

The heat has been blamed for the deaths of seven people in Georgia, three in North Carolina and one each in South Carolina, Virginia and Louisiana. In Vincennes, Ind., officials said a 16-year-old girl died of apparent heat stroke Wednesday while working in a tin-roofed building at a camp during temperatures in the mid-90s. An autopsy was planned.

The drought has withered crops across much of Dixie, and the dryness combined with heat has been a fatal double blow to livestock. Nearly a million chickens have been reported killed in Georgia, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina.

Livestock Feed Asked

The office of Georgia Gov. Joe Frank Harris asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday to make livestock feed available to farmers.

Meanwhile, offers of hay and free transportation to get it to South Carolina are coming in from as far away as Minnesota, state officials said, with a firm commitment of 30 tons of hay from Indiana.

Sen. Mack Mattingly (R-Ga.) announced Thursday that the USDA was putting together a task force to tour Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas next week and develop recommendations for government assistance. Mattingly said he hopes a decision on aid can be made by the end of next week.

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