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Treading Water: Pond, CA residents doing the best they can in the ongoing flood

Residents in Pond are tired and wary after having their homes flooded twice in one week... and there's even more rain on the way.
Pond, CA (flooded)
Posted at 8:52 PM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-17 18:14:13-04

POND, Calif. (KERO) — This week's storm brought more flooding to the Pond community, leaving behind mud and water damage to many of the homes in the small neighborhood.

Residents, including Annette Blevins, say they were able to pump out the flood water and restore safe drinking water to the community on Wednesday, but by Thursday morning, new flood waters had come through, setting them back at square one.

"They're supposed to be working on Poso. That's what we've been told all week, but then why are we flooding again?" says Blevins. "If that's happening, why are we flooded again?"

After enduring seven days of rainfall and flooding, community members in Pond say they still need help. Blevins says she told her neighbors her concerns about the drinking water after seeing the state of her well.

Annette Blevins
Pond, CA resident Annette Blevins

"It's devastating. It's devastating," said Blevins. "This is nasty water. We don't know what's in this. Our kids have walked through this. We're out here walking in it because we're trying to get rid of it."

The Red Cross has been dropping off drinking water and pantry staples to residents in the community, and they're offering shelter at the Delano Community Center for those who choose to evacuate. Family and friends of Pond residents are also pitching in. Friends and family of sisters Bilquees and Sara Ubadi have brought quite a lot of the food being distributed. Organizations are helping where they can, but most of the assistance right now is coming from Pond community members and their extended support systems.

In a statement to 23ABC, Michelle Corson with Kern County Public Health says there are two water systems that serve the evacuation area of Pond and Highway 43. The state issued a Do Not Drink notice for the water system they regulate north of Schuster Road.

The water system that KCPHD regulates is south of Schuster Road, and that area remains under an evacuation order from the Kern County Fire Department. According to Corson's statement, Public Health will assess the water system before the evacuation order is lifted. If there are still concerns about the water's safety when the order is lifted, the community will be warned, as well as given any instructions they may need to follow in order to remain safe, such as a boil water notice, if applicable.

Blevins says she's lived in Pond for more than 60 years and she's never seen flooding like this before. She says she's been calling on officials to prevent flooding like this from happening again, but hasn't been given any definite answers about prevention efforts.

"From Tennessee, we have to go all the way, to get somebody to come in here that is going to clean up the mud and the muck. Once this is cleared out, as long as we know we aren't getting flooded again," said Blevins. "We don't want a Band-Aid. We want it fixed."

Red Cross Shelter Supervisor Emma Empey, who helped deliver food and supplies to Pond residents throughout the day, says they're doing their best to meet the people's needs.

Emma Empey red cross
American Red Cross Shelter Supervisor Emma Empey

"There's a lot of volunteers that seem to be helping people here in this community, which is great support for them, but the Red Cross is available for any needs for any clients that are struggling right now," said Empey.

Blevins says she spoke with the county Thursday morning and says they told her they were working to get the water pumped out of their neighborhood.

"They are trying," said Blevins. "I said 'At least someone sees us now.' We were told we were seen, but apparently, nobody reached out to let us know we were seen until now, so we just felt like we were being kicked to the curb and we were just taking care of ourselves, but now we feel like we're going to get some help."

flood dog
Pond, California flooded twice this week, and there's still more rain on the way.

Residents say since this is the second time their homes have been flooded in just one week, they are fearful it could happen again, and that fear is justified. Another storm system has been forecast for Kern County on Sunday, which could bring additional rain and flooding to Pond.