Strange as it may seem for a state in the midst of some of its driest weather conditions ever recorded, some weather experts are further predicting that even despite these dry conditions California may soon see a surge in the number of mudslides and flash floods the state will experience. This results largely from the widespread destruction that has been wrought by the many wildfires that have devastated the entire state over the past three years nas well as the natural hilly terrain and oceanfront density in Southern California in particular. Although California has been experiencing years of historic drought, which has led to historic and unchecked wildfires and greatly increased their spread across large swathes of the Golden State, the opposite type of weather is now causing serious concern. The vast areas of charred landscape left behind by some of the wildfires in recent years have led some experts to think the risk of mudslides in California are now a real danger that will need to be reckoned at some point. Mudslides are now a real danger in many of the affected areas because the forest or other normal ground covering that would help to absorb rainfall under normal circumstances has been completely stripped away by wildfires. California has seen a number of mudslides in the wake of some recent wildfires that have roared through the state. It also is a problem that will linger for years to come, as it takes years for the vegetation and other foliage that provides natural protection against a mudslide to grow back after a period of up to five years, meaning the risk of mudslides can linger for years even after an area has been devastated.
CNN recently featured a report on the increasing risk of mudslides in California given the wildfire activity in the state in recent years. One of the major factors cited by the report was the large swathes of forest and other lands that have been incinerated by fast-moving wildfires that have devastated much of the state this year. In Southern California, the recently extinguished Woolsey Fire in particular hit coastal and hilly areas, which are already susceptible to flash floods and mudslides given the natural terrain, and left it particularly vulnerable. Whereas normal soil and the surrounding vegetation will absorb a certain degree of rain, National Weather Service meteorologists told CNN that “burn scar,” an area that has been devastated by a wildfire, is even more at risk of flash floods because it loses the natural protection it has against flooding in the form of vegetation and trees that may absorb water. Burn scarred area is even more prone than an artificial surface like cement to have water to have water simply run off it. This makes areas that have been hit by wildfires particularly at risk for dangerous and or deadly mudslides. This is particularly true for coastal or hilly areas like that hit by the Woolsey Fire, particularly in and around Malibu, which could spell disaster for homeowners in those particular areas given that ground cover that used to be available to soak up rain is now gone as a result of the fire. It is a problem that will not ease for homeowners right away, but instead is a risk that will linger for the up to five years that experts consulted by CNN estimated it will take the vegetation to grow back.
Mudslides likely are not commonly thought of as a major threat by the average California resident or homeowner. Given the recent spate of wildfires across the entire state, many homeowners are more concerned about wildfires, which is understandable given what California residents have been through all over the state recently. However, what often follows wildfires are mudslides that prove to have as great a destructive power as the wildfires that preceded them. The mudslides that experts are speculating may hit some part of California in the near future also are not just conjecture by worrywart scientists; this exact phenomenon has occurred multiple times in California, including in Southern California in the wake of some of the worst wildfires of the 2017 season. For instance, according to an April 2018 Reuters report, Santa Barbara County in Southern California experienced a rash of mudslides in January 2018 that led to an estimated $421 million in damages, over 2000 insurance claims being and 21 deaths not long after that area been decimated by wildfires. Authorities attributed some of the devastation wrought by these mudslides as a result of deforestation which occurred due to 2017’s Thomas Fire in the area. The lack of any trees or vegetation to stop the spread of the fire likely contributed to its sheer devastation, including numerous deaths and millions of dollars in damages.
If you have experienced property damage as a result of a California mudslide, then you need to contact an experienced California property damage attorney. Mudslides are among the types of natural disasters that typically are covered by homeowners insurance. If you have experienced damage as a result of a mudslide, then you will need an experienced insurance claims attorney to assist in documenting the damage you have suffered and then submitting a claim to your homeowner’s insurance company. Itemizing your exact damages suffered as a result of a natural disaster like a mudslide can be very time-consuming and cumbersome because it requires tracking down documentation regarding the purchase price and value of virtually every item of personal property that was destroyed or damaged in the mudslide. At JT Legal Group, our experienced insurance claim attorneys have represented hundreds of homeowners affected by mudslides in Southern California and we know exactly what you need to do to document the damages you have suffered as well as how to present your claim to your insurer to increase the chances of it being paid in full and paid promptly. If your property has been damaged in a California mudslide, contact our firm immediately.
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