The small Tulare County town of Allensworth, which is being surrounded by floodwater, lost power on Tuesday amid powerful winds brought by the most recent storm.
The power loss knocked out the community water system so residents had no running water in their homes for much of Tuesday. It was the latest challenge in a string of problems the town is facing during this historic wet year.
Crews from Pacific Gas and Electric Company worked alongside Allensworth residents and were able to get the power restored Tuesday night around 8 p.m., said Kayode Kadara, a community leader in Allensworth.
In an ironic twist, the outage caused the town’s water storage tank to overflow, flooding an already soggy road.
That’s because power to the water system is divided between PG&E and Southern California Edison.
The pumps, which are outside of town, are run by SoCal Edison which did not lose power. But the system that sends water to households is run by PG&E which was out.
So, the pumps kept sending water to the storage tank which couldn’t get water to homes and ended up overflowing, said Kadara.
Allensworth is under an evacuation order as roads around the town have become impassable due to flood waters, though much of the town has remained mostly dry.
Kadara and his family are staying. He said they are well prepared as he had already stocked up on food and bottled water. He told community members if they wanted to stay in Allensworth to make sure they have enough supplies for at least a week.
Kadara said many residents want to stay to protect their homes. When the town went dark yesterday, it only emphasized that feeling.
“Those are the things that need to be understood,” said Kadara. “We want to make sure that peace is maintained, safety, and property is not stolen.”
Even though the roughly 600-person community is close knit, the area still suffers from crime, said Kadara. Gang activity and break-ins are unfortunate realities, he added.
Law enforcement told the community the evacuation was “mandatory” but they could choose to stay if they wanted, said Valerie Jasso Gorospe, director of outreach and engagement for nonprofit Allensworth Progressive Association.
“Not a lot of people wanted to leave,” said Gorospe.
Crews with CalFire worked throughout the day on Tuesday filling and distributing sandbags to residents.
Allensworth sits in the southeastern corner of Tulare County on what was formerly the Tulare lakebed.
As such, it is in a relatively low spot and the region’s now swollen rivers are bringing historic amounts of water into the area.
The string of storms and snowmelt that hit the valley starting March 10 has become a severe threat for Allensworth as dams have been unable to hold back rivers which want to naturally flow into the lakebed.
Smaller waterways, such as the Poso and Deer creeks have also posed a threat to Allensworth. But White River, normally dry, has become especially problematic, gushing water directly into the town.