Texas is experiencing its third-worst drought since 1895, and the New York Times humanizes the environmental disaster today with the story of Plainview. The drought, which has gone on for two years now, is affecting cattle, and finally forced the town's largest employer, a Cargill beef-processing plant, to close this month. That left 2,300 of the 22,343 people in town without jobs, and many of them are starting to leave. "I didn’t want to leave my town, but there ain’t nothing here for us," says one.
Some families had worked for the plant for generations. When Louis Torres and some of his relatives were offered new jobs at another plant in Kansas, the family moved—all 13 of them. The trend will likely continue, with students being pulled out of schools and the town trying to survive with vastly diminished numbers. Almost 1,000 of the district's students have parents who worked for the plant, and if half of them leave, the district loses more than $2 million and could end up closing a school. "We’re going to lose population," says the mayor. "We’re going to have businesses that are going to have a hard time making it.” (Read more drought stories.)