Friday July 7, 2023

The Guardian

There are portions of California’s Tulare Lake, with its blue water that stretches for miles and birds bobbing around the shoreline, where it can be easy to forget that a few months ago, none of this was here at all.

But then an irrigation hose or a fence post or a power line pokes through the surface, reminding passersby and authorities tasked with patrolling the lake what lies under the water.

The vast lake, once the largest freshwater body west of the Mississippi before it was drained by agricultural canals, reappeared this year amid a barrage of intense storms and flooding that swallowed up farmland in rural Kings county. Hundreds of acres of cotton, tomato and pistachio fields, workers’ homes, roads and power infrastructure are submerged within the lake, much of it beyond the sight of the visitors who have flocked to the shoreline. They have stopped by new viewing points and trudged to road closure signs with drones in hopes of seeing the historic lake first-hand.

“On the lake, you wouldn’t know where you were if you [hadn’t heard it] was going on,” said Nate Ferrier with the county sheriff’s office. “It’s water as far as the eye can see.”

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