Ravaged by months of drought, huge swaths of the southeast United States are on fire, but you wouldn’t know it judging by national media coverage.
A total of six states in the southeast (Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi) are currently suffering from “exceptional drought,” a category reserved for the most severe drought conditions, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. The majority of land in four states (Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia) are facing “extreme drought,” the second most severe level.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), a federal agency tasked with coordinating interstate fire prevention and suppression efforts, 83 fires are currently raging across 6 southeastern states. Eighteen of those are classified by NIFC as large and uncontained.
If you get most of your news from national TV networks, this is probably the first you’ve heard of any of this. The conversation at Thanksgiving dinner tables in the South last week wasn’t about politics; it was about drought and burn bans and fire risk. Instead of studying up on how to talk to their uncles about Donald Trump, people were asking where they could find hay for their livestock and how the lack of water was slowly killing their farmland.