By Sarah Gray
January 9, 2018

A deluge of rain in Southern California triggered mudslides, flooding, and rivers of mud that have killed at least eight and forced thousands to evacuate, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The rain hit Santa Barbara and Ventura counties—which were ravaged by the large, deadly Thomas Fire last month—particularly hard. The scorched areas have less vegetation and are less stable.

“It’s going to be worse than anyone imagined for our area,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason told the Times. “Following our fire, this is the worst-case scenario.”

In Montecito, a wealthy neighborhood east of Santa Barbara, heavy rain caused a creek to flood, sending “waist-high” mudflows through the community before sunrise. Eight were killed and 25 were injured, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office told the Times. A 14-year-old girl was rescued by the fire department from the debris of a house.

Mandatory and voluntary evacuations were put in place throughout Santa Barbara County on Monday afternoon ahead of the storm, according to the county’s website.

“The National Weather Service has issued A FLASH FLOOD WARNING for the Thomas Fire & Whittier Fire burn areas (along the Santa Barbara County south coast),” the website said. “This means that flooding & debris flows are imminent or occurring in these areas.”

Evacuations were also in place in parts of Ventura County and Los Angeles County.

The rain fell at a rate of 1.5 inches per hour in some areas of Southern California, according to CNN. By Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service reported 5.04 inches north of Ojai.

The rain forced a 30 mile section of the 101 Freeway—the main artery between Ventura and Santa Barbara—to close due to flooding and debris, the CHP tweeted early Tuesday morning. Parts of the I-5 north were also closed.

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