One episode, one hour total
Broadcast on PBS May 3, 2022
The Flood in the Desert tells the dramatic story of the March 1928 St. Francis Dam’s collapse and its aftermath, the second deadliest disaster in California history. The resulting flood killed over 400 people, destroyed millions of dollars of property, and washed away the reputation of one of the most celebrated men in Southern California, William Mulholland. A self-taught engineer, Mulholland had ensured Los Angeles’ remarkable growth by building a cement aqueduct that piped water from the Owens Valley across the Mojave Desert and into the arid city, 233 miles away. But the bursting of his St. Francis Dam, the city’s largest single reservoir, was a colossal engineering and human failure.