United States: At least fifteen dead in Southern California after rain causes mudslides and floods
Thursday, January 11, 2018
On Tuesday, the first major rain storm of the year inled to flooding that has caused at least fifteen deaths, mainly in . The flooding was exacerbated by ; particularly hard-hit was the wealthy community of , downstream of the site of the , where at least six houses were destroyed. More than 160 people have been hospitalized, four in critical condition.
According to the United States , five and a half inches of rain has fallen over two days in parts of , and more than four inches in parts of Santa Barbara County. In areas burned by the wildfires, ground cover that would have reduced runoff had been destroyed, and an impermeable layer of ash and burned soil had been created. As a result, torrents of mud ran downhill and inundated places such as Montecito. Mike Eliason, a spokesman for the , said homes in the wealthy community had been "wiped away from their foundations" by mudflows, which also burst a gas main, leading to a fire that destroyed another building.
Sections of the Los Angeles correspondent for BBC News, reported that roads were being blocked by "boulders the size of small cars" which had tumbled down the hills. BBC also reported, 300 people had been trapped in . Bill Brown, the , said at mid-afternoon that the number of deaths had reached thirteen and might rise. He described the flood-ravaged areas as looking "like a World War I battlefield" and said that emergency dispatchers had fielded some 600 calls between 3:00 and 6:00 am.were closed by flooding; a driver told television station that mud came "out of nowhere" and covered the highway in "about five seconds" and that he was glad he was still alive. James Cook, the
Emergency services including the Ventura County Aviation Unit were kept busy rescuing people. Thesent aircraft to assist. Spokesmen reported fifty people had been rescued in each of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties. Montecito resident, Berkeley Johnson, told the Santa Barbara Independent that he and his wife had taken refuge on the roof of their house but climbed came down when they heard a child crying. With a fireman's help were able to dig out a two-year-old girl, who looked like a "muddy doll" according to Johnson.
Officials issued evacuation orders on Monday for thousands of people living in Santa Barbara,, and counties, but Montecito was under only voluntary evacuation. Some of the evacuation orders were lifted later on Tuesday as the rain became lighter.
- "California mudslides: Rescuer saves 'muddy doll' baby" — , January 10, 2018
- Erin Myers, Erika Martin, CNN wire. "14 Dead as Powerful Storm Triggers Flooding, Mudslides in SoCal; 6 Montecito Homes 'Completely Wiped Away'" — , January 9, 2018
- "Thirteen dead amid California heavy rains and mudslides" — , January 9, 2018