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CNN Today

States Face Either Too Much Rain or Not Enough

Aired June 20, 2000 - 2:21 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Upper Midwest is swamped today. Fargo, North Dakota is in a state of emergency after being overwhelmed by an unprecedented volume of rain: eight inches in eight hours.

Christy Lauderbour (ph), of Fargo affiliate KXJB, has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTY LAUDERBOUR, KXJB CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the rains have subsided, the cleanup is just beginning.

MAYOR BRUCE FURNESS, FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA: We asked people: to stay home for a while, no traffic, or as little traffic as possible; to not come to work until later in the morning to limit their water usage.

LAUDERBOUR: The rains were simply too much for Fargo's drainage system to handle. And as the threat of more rain lingers ahead, things could get even worse.

DENNIS WALAKER, DIRECTOR, PUBLIC WORKS: Until those drains get back in bank, down to the bottom of the channels, we're vulnerable for the next two to three days. Stay away from it for right now because it's just a disaster out there.

LAUDERBOUR: Police are busy putting up barricades around trouble areas. And if you get caught trying to go around them, watch out.

LT. JEFF WILLIAMS, FARGO POLICE: If you go around a barricade, you're subject to being cited. And also, if you see water on a street ahead of you, please don't drive into it because it's very difficult to gauge how deep it is.

LAUDERBOUR: Power outages are another concern. About 1800 NSP customers are still without electricity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, much of the country is dealing with the opposite problem: not enough rain. As we've been telling you for weeks, the drought is especially bad in the Southeast.

Here's Bill Niket (ph) of Atlanta affiliate, WSB.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SID PARKERSON, FARMER: I tell you, times are so hard in South Georgia river, we're reusing pampers.

BILL NIKET, WSB REPORTER (voice-over): Sid Parkerson is trying to maintain his sense of humor, but he knows there's really nothing funny about the drought that's turned his Eastman, Georgia farm dry as dust.

PARKERSON: Oh, it's terrible, terrible, the worst I've ever seen it in my lifetime.

NIKET (on camera): You're going to lose money this year?

PARKERSON: Right, right. I'm afraid I'm going to lose a lot. It's sure not looking promising.

NIKET (voice-over): Parkerson coaxed these melons along by irrigating the fields with water from his pond. But he's had no significant rainfall in three months. And his pond is now dangerously low, which means he's not sure if he'll have the crop he needs to see him through the summer. And Parkerson says he's already lost a third of his income for the year because it was too dry to plant his annual peanut crop.

(on camera): Is this the kind of year that makes you wonder whether farming is the right business to be in?

PARKERSON: Yes, the last three has made me wonder a whole lot.

NIKET (voice-over): Farmers across the state are suffering similar fates this year, which is why the governor's office has now sent this letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman asking for help. It is the first step in winning federal disaster relief, which state officials believe is almost certain to be granted. Parkerson says the disaster assistance payments may be the only way he'll stay afloat to farm another year.

PARKERSON: The best thing most people can for us all is pray for us, that we get the good Lord to send us some rain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: OK, we'll do that.

ALLEN: We need that.

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