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THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2007
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Half-inch of rain not much for deficit, but great for shrubs

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

Decatur got .53 inches of rain Tuesday night, said Holly Allen, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

"From our standpoint, just over a half-inch won't do much to cut into the deficit for the year, which is about 10 inches below normal," she said. "That would be like maybe a temporary fix, like watering your grass at night."

But that's all right with Steve Page. He'll gladly accept it while hoping for more. Page works grounds and landscape for Decatur city schools.

After the area's driest March in 97 years, he is especially concerned about shrubbery installed at the new Banks-Caddell Elementary School and the remodeled Benjamin Davis and Leon Sheffield elementaries..

"We do have some wilt damage at Banks-Caddell, but nothing has caught my eye at Ben Davis yet," Page said. "The shrubbery there was put in a little earlier in the fall than the other two schools and is better established."

Page said shrubs at Leon Sheffield are "dropping some leaves, but we haven't lost any shrubbery. My son goes to school there and, dropping him off, I have observed some wilting. The rain (Tuesday) night was a tremendous help at these three schools, which do not have sprinkler systems and have to be manually watered."

Page said he needs to check some of the smaller 3-gallon shrubs, or ground cover shrubs, at Banks-Caddell.

"With the cool weather coming in, we're going to have a little browning of the tender new growth that hasn't had any cold weather on them. They can get some damage," he said.

Page said if the wind comes from the north, Leon Sheffield will get a direct hit.

"For a reference point, I had some wilt damage to shrubs in my yard with curled-up leaves," he said, "but they improved after the rain."

Allen said Decatur will be dry and much colder for the next week.

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