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Rural News

Disaster, disruptions, and exhaustion. Flood problems will not relent

KETV | Posted on March 18, 2019

The rivers kept raging Sunday as more Nebraskans and Iowas fled to shelters, first responders kept working through their exhaustion, and scores of volunteers offered supplies, food, and prayers.  The head of the Nebraska State Patrol said the recovery would be a "marathon". With highways closed and farmland flooded, no one could offer a solid projection on how long it might take to put Nebraska back to where it was a month ago.The immediate concern Sunday was for those still stranded, or isolated. The state organized a supply convoy of eight trucks and escorted them over damaged and closed highways to reach Fremont. Residents of North Bend were ordered to evacuate because there was no working water or sewer system in the Dodge County community.

Thousands flee Midwest flooding triggered by 'bomb cyclone' – and more rain is coming

USA Today | Posted on March 18, 2019

A "bomb cyclone" storm that bloated rivers as it roared through much of the Midwest combined with spring snowmelt Sunday to drive some Midwest rivers to record levels and force evacuation of hundreds of homes. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding. Two other men have been missing for days.Some areas must brace for more rain Tuesday, forecasters said. Tuesday's storm won't match last week's "bomb cyclone" that triggered heavy snow, howling winds and several tornadoes, AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews said. But he said there is the potential for up to another inch of rain on areas that have no place to put the water."That could trigger new or aggravate problems if that rain targets the areas hit hardest by the flooding," he said.The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency. Roads and highways were closed. 

Rural businesses feel ripple effect of farming struggles

Gazette Extra | Posted on March 18, 2019

Market forces have afflicted farmers in practically every commodity. Some farmers have drawn from their bank accounts and tried to persevere. Some have sold their animals and switched to other types of farming. Others have left the industry. As farms evaporate—Rock and Walworth counties have lost dairy farms every year since at least 1975—rural businesses that rely on farmers are feeling the impact.“I think it’s simple as driving down the road,” McMahon said. “Count how many dairy farms used to be a dairy farm. Right now, there might be horses in that pasture. It’s obvious that was a barn. There’s nothing there now. It is that simple.“How has it affected? Well, they’re just gone.” Even some of Beeler’s farmer customers who have no debt are struggling. They’ve had difficulty competing with enormous operations that have indirectly forced small farms out of business, she said.Those massive farms, some of which have out-of-state owners, often aren’t buying from local feed stores or implement dealers. They aren’t having a beer and burger at the tavern down the road, Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden said.“The bigger issue is the number of dollars leaving communities when small farms disappear. They’re not spending those dollars locally anymore,” said Von Ruden, whose union district covers Rock County. “That farm is probably banking out of the area or maybe even out of the state. And buying a lot of their commodities directly out of shipping terminals instead of buying from a local supplier.”

Wolves lead, dogs follow -- and both cooperate with humans

Science Daily | Posted on March 17, 2019

The statement is a bold one, especially as wolves have received a lot of negative attention in recent years. A recent study conducted by behavioral researchers, however, shows that dogs and wolves both work equally well with humans, albeit in different ways. The allegedly unequal brothers are thus much more similar than often assumed.

Why Broadband is a Better Bet than Coal for Rural America

Electric Light & Power | Posted on March 17, 2019

In my years as CEO of two different power-supply electric coops, one in Kentucky and the other in Colorado, I came to deeply appreciate the hardworking coal miners whose tough jobs had always been so indispensable to power generation. I felt for those miners as the forces of regulation and economics shifted our coal-powered industry toward natural gas. Across coal country, proud and vibrant small towns suffered enormously as mines closed and good-paying jobs faded. They suffer still.The truth is that no amount of political rhetoric can alter a fundamental reality of the U.S. energy system: Coal has no chance of competing with natural gas.  Fortunately, a movement is growing that actually could make a real difference for overlooked rural communities. According to a report published this past January by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), more than 100 electric co-ops now aim to provide broadband to rural communities in which this infrastructure is desperately needed. 

Existing census obstacles made worse for rural, immigrant communities

Peoria Journal Star | Posted on March 17, 2019

With up to two Illinois congressional seats and $1 billion or more in federal funding on the line if Illinois’ population is not correctly counted in the 2020 census, not-for-profit groups warn that changes to the census format this year could exacerbate an undercount in already hard-to-reach communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16 percent of Illinoisans live in “hard to count,” or HTC, communities, which require greater resources for the Census Bureau to reach and are the most likely to be undercounted.While HTC communities can be found across the state, they each have defining characteristics that make an undercount likely, and include rural, low-income, high-immigrant and homeless populations, as well as children, renters and ethnic or racial minorities.These communities are prevalent in large pockets of Chicago and surrounding Cook County; urban centers around the state, including Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington-Normal, Decatur and Metro East; and more rural areas, especially in southern Illinois, such as Carbondale, Cairo and various southern counties

Pot for pets: Here's how vets and others say it can help

Detroit Free Press | Posted on March 14, 2019

Misty is just one of an untold number of customers in a relatively new, but growing market — pot for pets. These aren’t the edibles or oils that contain THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that provides the “high” in humans — although there are some products being sold that contain low doses of THC. These are hemp-based products that provide relief for all sorts of doggie ailments, from arthritis to cancer to anxiety.And in an industry where pet owners spend an estimated $72 billion a year in the United States on supplies, veterinarian bills and medications, according to the American Pet Products Association, some experts believe the next big thing for doting dog owners is cannabis.

Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes, new research shows

Los Angeles Times | Posted on March 14, 2019

In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history.A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time.The study combines sea level rise and storms for the first time, as well as wave action, cliff erosion, beach loss and other coastal threats across California. These factors have been studied extensively but rarely together in the same model.

Review of noise impacts on marine mammals yields new policy recommendations

Science Daily | Posted on March 14, 2019

Marine mammals are particularly sensitive to noise pollution because they rely on sound for so many essential functions, including communication, navigation, finding food, and avoiding predators. An expert panel has now published a comprehensive assessment of the available science on how noise exposure affects hearing in marine mammals, providing scientific recommendations for noise exposure criteria that could have far-reaching regulatory implications.

Mental Health Trails Metal Detectors in School Safety Dollars

Pew Trust | Posted on March 14, 2019

After a gunman shot and killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to make the state’s public schools safe for students and teachers. “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” he said at a news conference following the May 18 shooting. “It’s time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again in the history of the state of Texas.” In August, Abbott issued a school safety action plan. And in his State of the State address in January he declared the issue an emergency item for the state’s biennial legislative session.ut Abbott, a Republican, also made it clear that in gun-loving Texas, school safety measures won’t include taking guns away from people considered a danger to themselves or others, known as “red flag” laws.Instead, the debate is over how much state money to invest in metal detectors, alarm systems and surveillance cameras versus school counselors and mental health assessments.