Drought remains severe

By Rasmieyh Abdelnabi

While Hurricane Katrina caused an instant disaster, the drought in DeKalb County is slowly affecting crops and bodies of water.

The drought affecting DeKalb County is still very severe.

Gilbert Sebenste, NIU’s meteorologist, said although the drought in this area is severe, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana are out of danger. Weather will be a little cooler through November, but temperatures will still be above average, he said.

In an Aug. 22 Northern Star article, Doug Dashner, DeKalb County farm bureau manager, said the county may lose as much as $110 million as a result of the drought. This year’s harvest is expected to yield 30 percent less than usual. However, nothing will be known for sure until the harvest season ends in November, Dashner said.

Dashner hopes conditions will improve. “We need to replenish the subsoil,” he said.

He said DeKalb County farmers are like Cubs fans, optimistic next year will bring better results. Dashner said the fall rain and the snow brought by the winter will help ease the consequences of the drought.

Esmond farmer Paul Taylor said the drought has not had a negative impact on all the crops he raises.

The corn is suffering because it needs a lot of moisture, but the wheat is doing well because it needs the dry weather, he said.

Taylor said he succeeded at lessening the consequences of the drought by mixing some of the crops.

It would be hard to successfully raise each type of crop; every year brings new challenges, he said.

Crops are not the only sources suffering because of the drought – area water bodies are also suffering.

The Kishwaukee River is completely dry on the south side of DeKalb for the first time, Sebenste said.

“The river needs rain. That’s the only way to fix it,” he said.

The lack of water is harming aquatic life. If rain doesn’t come soon, the fish could start dying from the lack of oxygen, Sebenste said.

Despite the Kishwaukee River’s bad luck, Shabbona Lake is faring well thanks to weeds.

Weeds create oxygen, said Kerry Novak, assistant superintendent of the Shabbona State Park.

The lake lost about eight to 12 inches, which isn’t anything to worry about,” Novak said.

The lake average is about 19 feet deep with some areas about 40 feet.

“The lake is able to absorb something like this,” he said.

Only two activities at Shabbona Lake are affected by the water loss: boat launching and shoreline fishing, Novak said.

Launching boats has become a little difficult, he said.

Because of the water decrease, weed beds are exposed. Therefore, the fish move with the water, Novak said.