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Heroes

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.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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