Drought-stricken California town gets portable showers

Tulare County officials installed free mobile showers at Iglesia Emmanuel church in East Porterville, where wells have run dry. Until now, hundreds of residents were forced to bathe from buckets and drink bottled water.
(Rick Elkins / Associated Press)

Something as basic as taking a hot shower has been unattainable for hundreds of residents of a small California community whose wells ran dry as a result of the drought.

But that changed Monday when Tulare County officials installed free mobile showers at Iglesia Emmanuel church in East Porterville. The church showers will serve up to 2,800 residents.

“We want to make sure that the basic needs of those impacted by the drought are being met,” County Supervisor Mike Ennis said in a statement.

Residents had been using buckets of water to bathe themselves. In some cases, officials said residents simply stopped showering while children used school showers after physical education classes.


But as temperatures continued to dip this winter, the old showering method “becomes very difficult and uncomfortable,” Ennis said.

“Everybody deserves to be able to take a nice hot shower, and that’s what we’re providing,” he said.

Not only will the showers provide hot water, but they will be private and secure.

Residents can bathe in one of 26 showers inside the mobile units, which are also equipped with central heating. They also can use outdoor sinks to brush their teeth and shave.

County officials have asked residents to bring their own towels and toiletries, however.

“We know there is a lot of demand out there,” said Andrew Lockman, manager of the county’s Office of Emergency Services. “We know there is a lot of people who need it.”

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