California may not be the place to live this year. Not only has the state experienced a massive array of wildfires, but as of last Thursday Jan. 11, the Santa Barbara area experienced rapid rainfall rates that exceeded one inch per hour. This contributed to their damaging mudslides that have killed at least 17 people while eight more remain missing.
Because these previous wildfires have practically burned the Southern California land in the past few months, the ground cannot be porous enough to absorb the rain pouring. Nonetheless, the land is becoming even worse with the state’s various hillsides.
Right outside of Santa Barbara, an upscale town, Montecito, has experienced the most damage. This was also where the largest wildfire took place that burnt away trees and brush through the hills above Montecito, where downpours flowed through.
Because heavy rain is so rare in this drought-phase in California, mud, rocks and water were tumbling down creeks and hills and into the neighborhoods below. The muddy contents entered just as residents were sleeping, ripping apart homes from their foundations. Power lines tumbled down and the roads turned into muddy rivers.
That next morning, the town was filled with debris. Rescue workers began searching for bodies in the streets and trapped victims. Both rescue workers and citizen volunteers were sent to locate the missing. With so many road destructions, helicopters flew through the area to rescue survivors, even lifting them off of the roofs of their homes.
Over 500 homes were completely damaged and another 1,500 were severely affected. Even the 101 freeway was covered and will be closed all through this week.
Forecasts predicted this heavy rain and ordered thousands to evacuate their homes. Unfortunately, not everyone listened as they were previously warned from the wildfires. Most residents did not want to do the process all over again after the wildfires, so people decided to stay in their homes.
The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management explained last week that Montecito will be without potable water, electricity and sanitation for an “extend period of time.”