Deadly Mudslides

Southern California started off the new year with disaster as mudslides invaded multiple counties. These natural disasters, otherwise known as debris flows, are usually subsequent events to some sort of natural disaster, like the recent wildfires. These mudslides are a type of landslide that “often contain mud, rock and other materials.” David Peterson, a professor of forest ecology at the University of Washington was consulted. He stated that the Thomas Fires, which preceded mudslides were so severe because all of the vegetation that was previously present was no longer there to slow the erosion down. This made these mudslides even more damaging, and left thousands in harm’s way with no protection.
The area destroyed by the largest wildfires in California’s history has also been ravaged by mudslides in recent weeks as of January. The wildfires demolished a large portion of land north of the San Francisco Bay Area, including neighborhoods, and many communities spanning from 245,000 acres of land. Approximately 100,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes due to the spread of the fires and 46 died as a result of these fires. These fires blazed on through December, leaving many families devastated for the holidays and many citizens worried about their futures.
Just weeks after this extreme destruction, mudslides in Southern California brought even more demolition to the area. These catastrophes have resulted in approximately 20 deaths in areas such as Santa Barbara County, which is northwest of Los Angeles. Search and rescue efforts are still being conducted while the Sheriff’s office has stated they are hopeful to find more people alive. Santa Barbara County Sheriff, Bill Brown, stated, “Right now our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged.” These ongoing rescues have served as a beacon of hope to all in Southern California and the surrounding areas.