Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Flooding remains a concern in California

A flooded residential neighborhood. A "Sold" sign is protruding from the muddy water in center.
The neighborhood at Hillside Estates in Woodlake in Tulare County is flooded Wednesday after the previous night’s heavy rains.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, March 18.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week

Age, drought, rodents and neglect weaken California levees, heightening flood danger. The Pajaro River levee failure points to hazards that California has yet to address in many areas where communities are vulnerable, experts say.


  • The levee breach in Monterey County triggered massive flooding and prompted evacuations and rescues.
  • The migrant town of Pajaro was flooded last week during powerful storms that caused a levee to break. Now, another storm is moving in.
  • As floodwaters rise in California, so does the risk of more levee failures. Experts say decades of government neglect puts more vulnerable communities at further risk of catastrophic flooding.
  • Days after the rain stopped, communities across Central California, including Porterville and Visalia, are still under evacuation orders and flood warnings. And more rain is on the way.

LAUSD teachers and staff prepare for a massive three-day strike. Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school district, will shut down all 1,000 campuses beginning Tuesday as teachers and school staff unions strike for three days.

What to know about Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse. Silicon Valley Bank, or SVB, collapsed late last week as venture capitalists pulled out billions of dollars in a short time span. Here’s everything to know about SVB’s spectacular collapse.


Eric Garcetti finally got the ambassadorship he wanted. After nearly two years in limbo, former L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was confirmed on Wednesday as the next U.S. ambassador to India. Here’s how he did it.

The Week in Photos

Michelle Yeoh accepts the award for best actress at the 95th Academy Awards.
Michelle Yeoh accepts the Oscar for best actress for her role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at the 95th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

See the photos behind this week’s biggest stories: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” sweeps up at Oscars; a massive three-day strike may shut down L.A. public schools; Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to transform San Quentin State Prison; and California prison program trains addiction counselors.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state is on track to cut unsheltered homelessness by 15%. After criticizing all local homelessness plans last year, Newsom announced during his State of the State tour that locals have agreed to reduce unsheltered homelessness by 15% in two years.

Examination of a USC doctor’s earlier books finds more troubling instances of plagiarism. The Times reviewed three books by Dr. David Agus and co-writer Kristin Loberg and found more than 120 passages that are virtually identical to the language and structure of previously published material.


L.A. riders bail on Metro trains amid ‘horror’ of deadly drug overdoses and crime. Commuters have abandoned large swaths of a Los Angeles Metro train system plagued by crime and the scourge of drugs. Since January, 22 people have died on Metro buses and trains, mostly from suspected overdoses — more people than all of 2022.

California to transform the infamous San Quentin prison with Scandinavian ideas. Newsom will announce plans to remake San Quentin, one of the state’s most storied prisons, using a Scandinavian prison model that emphasizes rehabilitation.

How an FBI agent’s wild Vegas weekend stained an investigation into NCAA basketball corruption. A Times investigation reveals details about a probe into NCAA men’s college basketball and misconduct by the lead FBI agent in Las Vegas.

Companies say they want diversity. So why are Latinos left off corporate boards? Latinos are the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority with 18.9% of the population, yet even as companies tout their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Latinos are far less likely to ascend to the pinnacle of business power in mostly white boardrooms.

ICYMI: What happened at the 2023 Oscars? ”Everything Everywhere All at Once” dominated, Rihanna gets a standing ovation, Ke Huy Quan tears up and more at the 2023 Academy Awards.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Forced to live in horse stalls. How one of America’s worst injustices played out at Santa Anita. Japanese Americans were held at the race track before being shipped to incarceration camps. Letters from Darrell Kunitomi’s uncle reveal the indignities of living there.

No, my Japanese American parents were not ‘interned’ during WWII. They were incarcerated. In the aftermath of Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Teresa Watanabe’s parents were imprisoned in an incarceration camp — not an internment camp. Internment. Incarceration. Not many people make a distinction between the two terms or understand why it’s so important to do so.

The Los Angeles Times will no longer use “internment” to describe the mass incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Her mother disappeared. Then her babysitter. A lawman fears she might be next. A Northern California tribal police chief is challenged personally and professionally with how to solve a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Kenya Romero. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to

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