Allensworth community members fight for flood prevention

Kate Nemarich Image
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Allensworth community members fight for flood prevention
Allensworth's residents are fighting for their community's safety as rain continues to fall and concerns of snow melt grow.

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Allensworth's residents are fighting for their community's safety as rain continues to fall and concerns of snow melt grow.

"The town that refuses to die" is what community members say is Allensworth's motto.

Originally founded as a Black community, the town's majority is now Latino, according to community leaders.

Now, they're working to ensure their community doesn't flood and they're looking for support in the effort.

Allensworth was founded in 1908 by Colonel Alan Allensworth. It was the first and only town in California entirely founded, financed, and governed by Black Americans.

"He was a Lieutenant Colonel, the highest ranking Black member of the military at that time," said Kayode Kadara, Allensworth Community Member. "Decided to establish a township to essentially be a place of reprieve for a lot of Blacks during that era."

The town faced hardships over the years, including Allensworth's death in 1914, the Pacific Farming Company not developing a promised irrigation system, and the railroad bypassing the town.

The original town is now memorialized as a state park, but Allensworth still lives on.

Recent storms put the community under evacuation orders.

"We have issues with White River that is flowing into the eastern portion of our community. We have Deer Creek right up there," said Kadara.

Kadara is a longtime resident and advisor to the Allensworth Progressive Association. He said community members have taken it upon themselves to try to divert water away from their community.

"The water just kept flowing," said Kadara. "We had tractors, shovels, whatever we could find, that's how we stopped that flow."

Kadara said they've been getting support from the county, but they need everyone who has a stake in the area to come together on flood mitigation.

"We just want all the applicable organizations, agencies, governmental, non-profit, whomever out there to come up, including the railroad, we need to get to the table and figure out what we do before this heavy snowmelt is coming," said Kadara.

Luis Vasquez lives in the area. He had concerns about the Poso Creek and wants work to be done on the front end.

"If we could please get more attention and help because it's a silent issue, it's a silent danger that's coming up and I think it can affect a lot of people," said Vasquez.

Kadara said those who have chosen to stay despite evacuation orders did so to protect their property. They've held multiple community meetings and Kadara said they will continue to address flood concerns.

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