Southeast U.S. Wracked by Severe Drought The Southeastern part of the United States may look green, but it's dry — bone dry. The National Weather Service is calling the dry spell an "exceptional" drought. Cities are towns in the region are taking steps to deal with the conditions.

Southeast U.S. Wracked by Severe Drought

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Environmental problems here too. The word drought has been coming up a lot here, but it's not the West people are talking about - usually, the region most in danger of drought.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

No. It's the southeast. It's drier there than it has been in decades. Just over a quarter of the Southeast is now in what the National Weather Service is calling an exceptional drought.

BRAND: David Stooksbury is Georgia's climatologist, and he's a professor at the University of Georgia. He says the drought is also starting to affect the region's economy.

Professor DAVID STOOKSBURY (Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences): Drought, in many ways, is the Rodney Dangerfield of natural disasters. Nobody would ever take him seriously, and in many ways, drought is that way. It's not until situations get critical that we start to take it seriously.

BRAND: And serious it is. In the Atlanta area, for example, there are now four million residents versus the one million its reservoir was built to serve. That is drying down the water supply faster than expected. The forecast isn't calling for much rain in the near future.

CHADWICK: So towns in the southeast are taking action or trying to. Siler City, North Carolina, has asked its businesses and residents to cut their consumption way down.

The town manager, Joel Brower, says people are getting creative.

Mr. JOEL BROWER (Town Manager, Siler City, North Carolina): They're doing things like short showers, paper plates at home, you know, people are calling me with ideas. I was talking to someone the other day and they're actually catching the bathtub water and using that flush to commode.

CHADWICK: But even with a current rate of water consumption, if the city's reservoir does not rise, town manager Brower estimates there's less than three months of water left.

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