'American Experience: Flood in the Desert' Premieres on PBS May 3

Ruins following the collapse of the St. Francis Dam.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Ryan Quinn)

PBS announced American Experience: Flood in the Desert will premiere Tuesday, May 3 at 9 p.m. on PBS, PBS.com and the PBS Video App.

Flood in the Desert is about the collapse of the St. Francis Dam on March 12, 1928. The collapse sent 12 billion gallons of water into areas north of Los Angeles, killing approximately 400 people and injuring and displacing thousands more. The dam was built by Irish immigrant William Mulholland as a way to bring water to L.A., ending several years of drought. It was also meant to bring clean energy and electricity. 

“The modern West was in many ways conceived in the first decades of the 20th century," said director Rob Rapley. "It is the result of a national project to divert the waterways, reshape the environment, and build great cities. Today that West is facing a crisis of fire and thirst. As we seek a path forward, it is useful to remember how we got here.”

“The story of the St. Francis Dam collapse is a tragic reminder of the price we pay when we continually attempt to bend nature to our will. This film – sadly – couldn’t be more timely,” said American Experience executive producer, Cameo George. ■

Chelsea Anderson
Assistant Content Producer

Chelsea Anderson has been with Future for two years. She started as an intern with NewBay Media/Multichannel News in 2015. During her time she wrote bylined articles and program reviews as well as helped with research graphics for the magazine. She later became News Assistant for Broadcasting & Cable in 2017 until 2020 when she became Assistant Content Producer. Chelsea graduated from Niagara University in 2016 with a Bachelor's in Communication Studies and a double minor in Writing Studies and Sociology.