Community of Allensworth comes together to face historic flooding

The historic Black community of Allensworth continues to face flooding danger as another atmospheric river hits the Central Valley.

The agricultural communities of Alpaugh and Allensworth, home to about 1,400 people, were ordered evacuated this weekend because of “the possibility of residents becoming isolated due to impassible roadways,” according to Tulare County sheriff's officials.

The flooding was caused by a breached levee along Deer Creek, just north of Allensworth.

The risk of flooding, property damage, and threat to safety prompted the Allensworth Progressive Association and residents to protect the town of roughly 600 residents.

"Examples of selfless, spontaneous, and ingenious actions included the makeshift construction of an earthen berm on Palmer Avenue to contain flood water from the White River beginning to enter the community," association officials stated. Residents "sprung into action" clearing obstructions from the same canal, restoring the normal flow building pressure.

Local leadership has been in the community distributing Office of Emergency Services informational fliers and reaching out to other local and state government agencies, politicians, and partners to bring resources to Allensworth.

Community meetings were also held to inform the public how to protect the town.

"The spirit of Allensworth can best be captured by a resident who told the crowd at the community meeting, 'I will die before I quit,' about protecting the town from flooding," association officials stated.

The Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is not flooded and remains open to the public. The park is named after Lt. Col. Allen Allensworth, the founder, and a retired Buffalo Soldier in the Army.

Despite ongoing efforts, the risk of "catastrophic flooding" remains high as storms bring warm rains, which raise the risk of snowmelt further impacting already stressed waterways. Flooding from snowmelt will continue to be an issue through the spring and into the summer, Allensworth officials said.

A potent storm slammed into California on Tuesday morning, bringing howling winds, driving rain, and heavy snow to the state. Mountainous regions of the Golden State expect heavy snow of up to 5 feet on Tuesday and Wednesday; wind gusts of up to 70 mph were already reported.

Local officials expect both dam spillways to be operational with the current rainfall and forecasted thunderstorms for local reservoirs, Success Lake and Kaweah Lake. The spillways are designed to release controlled flows to both manage water levels of lakes and control local flooding risks.

"Mostly calm weather returns Thursday into the weekend," National Weather Service officials said. "A seemingly weaker system continues to linger at the end of next week's forecast period that we are monitoring."

Allensworth/Alpaugh evacuation orders:

All homes and businesses in the Alpaugh area. Alpaugh's current evacuation route is to take Avenue 54 westbound to Virginia Avenue to 6th Avenue, 6th Avenue northbound to Utica Avenue, and Utica Avenue westbound to Interstate 5. For Allensworth, the recommended evacuation route is Palmer Avenue eastbound to Highway 43, Highway 43 southbound to Garces Highway, and Garces Highway eastbound to Highway 99 northbound.

Anyone who wants to donate items can view the Allensworth Community Needs List.

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Allensworth comes together to face historic flooding