Allensworth, a farmworker town of about 500 people in California’s San Joaquin Valley, sits at the edge of an area called the Tulare Lake Basin. Last March, California’s barrage of atmospheric rivers overwhelmed the area, flooding pistachio orchards and swamping communities, and Allensworth found itself all but surrounded by a shallow sea, reports Teresa Cotsirilos in FERN’s latest story, produced in collaboration with KQED’s The California Report.
“California is fighting a slow-motion disaster, one that could become its largest flood in recent history. As the near-record snowpack in the Sierra mountains melts, the water making its way through the foothills is pooling in the basin, reviving a lake that had long disappeared. This process is expected to accelerate over the coming weeks and months, and it could take up to two years to subside. And while the return of Tulare Lake could devastate everyone in the region, historically disenfranchised communities like Allensworth are uniquely vulnerable,” the story says.
“It’s a horrific situation,” Denise Kadara, an Allensworth community leader and the vice chair of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, said in the story. “We’re here like sitting ducks, waiting for the water to come and flood us out.”