First came wildfires, then torrential downpours, now rescue workers are scrambling to save those stranded amidst massive mudslides that have come as a result of the prior natural flares that have wrought havoc throughout Southern California.
The rescue efforts entered a fourth day on Jan. 12, 2018 as authorities continue to scour the wreckage for survivors. At least five individuals are still unaccounted for, down from a far steeper count of 43 on Jan. 11. The mudslides have killed 17 people so far and have claimed over 100 homes. The ages of the deceased range from 3 to 89.
The affected area is Santa Barbara County in Southern California, which saw the beginnings of the disaster occur on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2018 following heavy rains in the early morning. Specifically, the seaside town of Montecito, Calif., has taken the grunt of slides, having also been significantly affected by the wildfires that swept through Southern California weeks earlier.
Santa Barbara County is currently utilizing roughly 1,250 workers to search and research the afflicted areas, and despite the reduction in missing peoples, the county expects the death toll to rise.
The county also widened the mandatory evacuation zone on Thursday, warning residents to expect the area to remain under evacuation order for at least two weeks.
The string of disasters in the area are all inexorably linked. Because the wildfires charred the hillsides, burning vegetation that would have kept the area less susceptible to mudslides, hills were weakened, leaving a precarious natural formation ripe for the events that transpired Tuesday following the rainstorm.
Potential long-term remedies to temper the magnitude of these disasters include the installation of more basins throughout the area to collect debris and slow storm runoff.
As the rescue efforts go forth into the foreseeable future, Water & Wastes Digest wants to hear more testimonies of this tragic event. Please send your stories, photos or any other materials to [email protected].