Few times in my life have I experienced something where I was moved to tears. When I traveled to Southwestern Oklahoma and saw the devastation brought on by the severe drought, my tears were some of the only water around. The temperature was so brutal; my equipment was too hot to touch at times. My hands were blistered from grabbing my tripod and camera.
This area has not seen any rain since October of 2010. Their grass is dried up, if it has not been burned by fire, and most of their ponds are history. Livestock and equine producers are forced to sell out because they simply cannot feed or water them. We stopped by the sale yard in Apache, OK, and the sight there was almost unbearable. The average number of cattle that runs through there is about 3,000 head of bulls and steers on Thursdays. Because of circumstances beyond control, there were over 6,000 head already there and trailers kept rolling in. When it was all said and done, auctioneers sold until 4:00 the next morning.
Growing up in Washington State, I never knew drought. I did grow up on the “dry side” of the state but we have a wonderful irrigation system that has made Eastern Washington a prime agricultural area. I never dreamed I would see the day where Americans are restricted in their water use. It was a wakeup call for me as I drove through Cement, OK, and saw very few people watering their lawns. Even when the time came to where people could water, many forfeited their chance to save water for the firemen.
A lot of times, stories like these create awareness and people take a stand to change things. Unfortunately, in this case, the change that needs to be made is RAIN. So say an extra prayer, do a rain dance, or whatever it is you may do. Because the people, the livestock and the land in Southwestern Oklahoma are drying up and are running out of options.