Cloudy skies and scattered rain brought temporary relief from the Southeast's heat wave but did little for its drought, and while more farmers told a federal task force they need help, the panel's head said he "can't make any promises."
"It's almost unbelievable to see the crops in this destroyed position," said Assistant U.S. Agriculture Secretary George Dunlop, head of the task force, which has visited South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. The death toll from the heat reached 38.
Jerry Harrison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia, S.C., said the cooling that held temperatures in the 90s is "a temporary thing . . . . The cloudiness will be gone by tomorrow or the day after."
This is the Southeast's driest year since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1878. But Edward R. Cook, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory in New York, said, "The current drought could well be the worst since 1711."
Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace sent a telegram urging President Reagan to expedite relief to farmers there and in other states. Georgia sent a letter asking federal officials to declare the entire state an agricultural disaster area, said a spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Frank Harris. The declaration would make farmers eligible for low-interest loans