Posted inEditor's Pick

After Water

Susie Cagle | Longreads | June 2, 2015 | 5,160 words

Family, politics, rural identity—and water: A new Longreads Exclusive by illustrator-journalist Susie Cagle on the plight of East Porterville, California, and what happens to agriculture when the last drop is gone.

Posted inIllustrated Title, Story

After Water

The illustrated story of California, and what happens when the water runs out.

Susie Cagle | Longreads | June 2015 | 21 minutes (5,160 words)

The sun was going down in East Porterville, California, diffusing gold through a thick and creamy fog, as Donna Johnson pulled into the parking lot in front of the Family Dollar.


Since the valley started running dry, this has become Johnson’s favorite store. The responsibilities were getting overwhelming for the 70-year-old: doctors visits and scans for a shoulder she injured while lifting too-heavy cases of water; a trip to the mechanic to fix the truck door busted by an overeager film crew; a stop at the bank to deposit another generous check that’s still not enough to cover the costs of everything she gives away; a million other small tasks and expenses. But at the Family Dollar she was singularly focused, in her element.

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