After suffering from some of the worst wildfires in the history of California, the state is now dealing with a different problem, mudslides. The state has been receiving heavy rains, something that should be welcomed in a state that is constantly suffering in a drought state, but there have been unwelcomed consequences as the mudslides continue to worsen.
People are now trapped in their homes, some even in their cars as the state rushed to shut down highways in the early dark of Tuesday morning. So far, there are at least fifteen people who have perished, but the number is expected to rise as the mudslides continue. Authorities are rushing to offer aid and rescues where they can, and they have noted that so far, at least three homes in Santa Barbara county have been completely lost.
The conditions near Santa Barbara worsened rapidly as the mudslides cut a gas line that then caused a fire that spread through out a few homes in the area. Responders were delayed in reaching the scene due to waist deep mud and downed trees and wires caused by the slides. Helicopters are being used in order to reach people, but that takes time and is tricky. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown noted that the area looked like a battlefield from World War I.
Numerous highways around Santa Barbara have been shut down, and once day light broke on Tuesday morning it was much easier to survey the scene. Mud, boulders and branches covered roadways and had crashed into numerous homes. Homes are filled with mud, cars were shoved into trees, and the entire area was bathed in mud and debris. One resident, Benjamin Hyatt, had to be rescued from his roof after his house became surrounded by mud, even sending a washing machine into his front yard. Areas that were damaged in the recent wildfires would be more prone to flash flooding due to them being less absorbent due to being burned. This means that water will run across some of these dirt areas as if it were pavement, washing silt, debris and ash along with it into nearby areas. For pictures and more details on the damage, head to the Huffington Post.
Many residents feel that in some ways, these mudslides are far worse than the devastating fires the state just suffered through. Between droughts, wildfires, heat waves, and heavy winter rains, the effects of climate change on the state of California seem quite clear. The pattern is changing and shifting, and the West Coast is suffering.