TULARE COUNTY (CBS13) — The epicenter of California’s drought crisis is in the Central Valley, where there are growing fears the drought could wipe entire towns off of the map.
Wells are going dry, jobs are harder to come by and families are already moving, either to different states or even Mexico in search of work.
Before visiting Tulare County, a place where wells have gone dry and some people are living in third-world conditions, we went to a place deep in the Mojave Desert that offers a dire warning of what can happen when the water runs out.
Desolate and deserted, Dave Leimbach is one of the few left in Lockhart.
Once home to hundreds, it’s an all but abandoned and forgotten ghost town in the Mojave that barely a half-dozen people call home.
The sun set slowly on the old farming town when the nearby lake dried up.
“I’ve been out here since 1980,” he said. “And they’re all gone. All of them.”
Hundreds of miles away, communities similarly built on farming are struggling as water is scarce. Orchards have been ripped out, and farm jobs are few. Many worry new ghost towns could be on the horizon in Central California.
In these parts, Donna Johnson is affectionately known as the water lady. She’s delivering water to a needy family in East Porterville, a devastated town we’ve visited before. Dozens more wells have run dry since our last trip. Most of the Tulare County community south of Fresno still has no water.
Inside, Juanna Garcia does dishes with bottled water. In the days before help arrived, she didn’t use soap. She gave the leftover dishwater to her kids. Living in poverty with no running water, she may have to leave.
Here we met Alex, a farm worker who drives nearly a day for the closest job to Washington state or even Toronto. Next month he plans to move away.
“No water, no nothing,” he said.
Drinking water and food lines are longer than ever at Iglesia Emmanuel.
“It’s dire, it’s dire here, it’s dire straits,” said Antonio Alvarez.
Full article: California Drought Could Wipe Cities Off Map If Their Water Runs Out (CBS Sacramento)