The temperature's back up above 100 degrees, it hasn't rained in two weeks and the weather reports promise another agonizingly endless streak of sunny days. Twenty-five people in the state of Missouri, 23 of them in St. Louis, have died of heat-related illnesses, the most in 30 years. The corn crop is shot. And now it's official: The summer of 2012 is a disaster.
In the wake of the U.S. Department of Agriculture declaring all 114 of Missouri's counties disaster areas, Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order yesterday declaring a state of emergency. The order authorizes state agencies to assist local agencies in dealing with the heat and drought; this presumably means helping put out wildfires, giving aid to farmers who have lost crops and livestock, managing the state's dwindling water supply and providing city-dwellers with fans and air-conditioning.
"The high temperatures and dry conditions across the state are taking their toll on Missourians," Nixon said in a press release. "Our farmers are suffering tremendous losses in crops and livestock, and we're seeing more heat-related deaths and emergency room visits, particularly among seniors. In addition, we continue to see a high risk of fire from tinderbox conditions, and we are monitoring how the drought is affecting public water supplies and distribution.
"We're going to continue to work with public health officials, public safety officials and agricultural leaders to alleviate the impact of the heat and drought, but the long-range forecast shows our preparation and response will likely be needed for the foreseeable future."
In other words, the state of emergency, for now, will last until October 1.