ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A similar chorus was repeated in congregations throughout eastern New Mexico and West Texas on Sunday as parishioners gathered for a special day of prayer to give thanks for recent moisture that has helped ease drought conditions across the region.
"Truly a miracle," Hoyt Skabelund said of the improvements seen in the last six months.
Skabelund, an active church member and administrator of the Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis, helped to organize the first day of prayer at the beginning of May when large swaths of New Mexico and Texas were struggling with extreme to exceptional drought conditions.
At the time, ranchers continued to sell off their cattle as countless acres of farmland were left fallow. Reservoirs had reached record lows and major rivers that supply drinking and irrigation water to farmers in both states had started to dry up.
Then things began to turn around as the clouds started to form and the monsoon season picked up steam. Parts of southeastern New Mexico saw storms in August that dumped a few inches of rain in just 24 hours. The next month, the state recorded its second wettest September as historic amounts of rain fell.
"September was epic, historic, whatever you want to call it," Chuck Jones of the National Weather Service said in his latest report for a state drought monitoring workgroup. "A major dent has been made in the short-term drought."
In Texas, portions of the South Plains were drenched with about a month's worth of rain and hail during just one storm three weeks ago.
Areas in both states are still recovering from flash flooding spurred by all the rain, but Skabelund and others said the region could not have weathered much more of what had seemed to be such a relentless drought without any moisture.
"The recent rainfall has truly blessed the individuals, families and communities of our area," Skabelund said.
Despite the rain, religious leaders said the prayers would continue given that much of New Mexico and Texas are still dealing with moderate to severe drought. Winter forecasts are also favoring a drier and warmer winter season than normal.