A camera captured just how different California looked during and after its drought.

Californians can finally take a long shower again.

Lake Oroville in 2017. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

On April 7, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared the state's three-year-long state of emergency — brought on by a devastating, five-year drought — over in all but four counties.


In the span of a single rainy winter, California's parched moonscapes were reborn in mud and greenery, bringing sudden, overdue relief to most corners of the long-suffering state.

Photographer Justin Sullivan captured the change in a series of astonishing photographs taken three years apart in the same locations and put the magnitude of the recovery in perspective.

1. In Oroville, a lake that had been reduced to a babbling brook by 2014 has officially been re-lake-ified.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

2. Boats in Lake Oroville's marina are finding they have a little more room to maneuver these days.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

3. Dogs in San Francisco's Bernal Heights Park have a more vibrant landscape to nose around in.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

4. Meanwhile, a cemetery in the Presidio got most of its color back.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

5. In Woodacre, horses are finding 2017 a far more promising grazing experience than the scene three years earlier.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

6. At Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Lagunitas, the threat of forest fire is finally ebbing.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

7. In El Dorado Hills, stranded boats are finally returning to the business of floating on water.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

8. And in Nicasio, ranches are looking a whole lot more postcard-worthy.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The end of the water shortage hasn't been unconditionally good news because of the severity of the weather that brought it about.

Since the beginning of winter, communities across the state have been battered by storms causing mass power outages and worse.

Here's what happened to a spillway at Lake Oroville after a mudslide.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

In February, landslides damaged the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur beyond repair, splitting the town in half, closing businesses, and forcing some residents to airlift in supplies.

Damage to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. Photo by Vern Fisher/Monterey Herald.

Environmental scientists believe drought boom-bust swings like this are a byproduct of climate change.

In addition to its impact on infrastructure, a recent Kansas University study determined this "weather whiplash" can cause severe problems for drinking water quality and devastate ecosystems.

This whiplash is why Brown is urging the state continue to conserve water as if the drought were still going on.

With the danger of harsh and sudden water shortages increasing with changes to the climate, the governor plans to retain many of the water-saving regulations that went into effect during the three-year emergency.

If you live in California, and you worry about your future ability to hydrate, you can call your state legislators and ask them to make the laws permanent.

Fulsom Lake in 2014. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

If you live elsewhere in the country, you can call your elected officials to, you know, make sure they work as hard as they can to make climate change not a thing in the first place.

With the region finally getting back to normal, it's natural for residents to want to hope for the best.

The best way to realize that hope might just be to prepare for the return of the worst.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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