California Catholics launch pray for rain campaign

FRESNO, Calif.

Sunday parishioners at St. John's Cathedral prayed for a higher power to give Mother Nature a nudge and deliver more rain to the Valley.

"As far as God is concerned, it's not necessarily how much prayer, it's about all of us getting together and praying," Catholic Church member Beatrice Walls said. "God knows what we need and he will provide."

The first snow survey of the winter found the statewide snowpack is at just 20 of what it typically is this time of year, prompting a concern over increased wildfires. It is also worrying farmers whose livelihoods rely on getting enough water for their crops.

"We have a history of farmers in our family, my grandparents work the fields and so I know the importance of needing the rain in our Valley," Laura Zarate said.

Last week, Mendocino County became the first community to request state drought assistance. Several other communities have set mandatory water reductions as well. Catholics say all of that illustrates California's dire need for water and why it's worth praying for.

"We put in our prayers along with everything else, our family, our health, whatever is essential in our lives at the time," Michael Heiden said.

Governor Jerry Brown says he is weighing whether or not to make an official drought declaration. On Thursday groups of Valley growers will be heading to Sacramento to meet with the governor asking him to make that declaration and open the doors for federal assistance.

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