From severe drought, grass fires and water conservation to lush green grass and lazy, rainy days, what a difference a year makes.
So far this year, Laurel County has received 35.53 inches of rain, more than the county received the entire year in 2008. It’s also about 2.5 inches more rain than the county received from Jan. 1 to the end of December in 2007.
The average amount of rain Laurel County receives from January to this time in July is 29.29 inches.
A recent poll conducted by The Sentinel-Echo showed area residents don’t mind the extra showers.
Of 268 respondents, 46.27 percent said the rain was “a blessing after nearly two years of drought.” Another 21 percent said the rain was “no problem for me.”
Another 14.5 percent of people said the rain was “depressing,” with an additional 11 percent responded the rain was an inconvenience to farmers and gardeners.
Glenn Williams, Laurel County Extension Service agent for agriculture, said farmers don’t mind the rain one bit, however.
“It’s been a great year compared to what it was last year,” he said. “Our corn is looking really good. All in all, this is what you like.”
Williams said the forage grass and hay crops have been phenomenal, thanks to the rain and cooler weather.
“The hotter the temperature, the less the forage grasses will grow,” he said.
The cool weather has also been easier on cattle and other farm animals, though has resulted in some mold and fungus on vegetables and other produce.
Fire fighters have also gotten a break, with far fewer grass and brush fires reported.
In June 2007, for example, there were 21 brush and grass fires and another 21 in July that year.
This year, there have been six such fires over both months.
During the 2007 drought, Laurel Water District No. 2 was the most affected area, with restrictions so stringent residents found to be using an excessive amount of water were charged extra on their water bills. Dorthea Lake was 80 inches below normal and washing cars and watering lawns was prohibited.
But that’s not the case this year.
“It’s full,” said David Hughes, superintendent of Laurel Water District No. 2, of Dorthea Lake. “The water is flowing really good. We haven’t had any worries about any kind of shortage.”
Conversely, Hughes isn’t worried about too much water either.
“It just flows over the dam,” he said. “We’ve not had any flood situations or anything.”
Overall, Hughes said he’s happy to have the rainy season.
“I’m pleased that we have it,” he said. “It makes everybody at ease when you have plenty of water.
Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.
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