Earlier this week, heavy rainstorms swept through most of Southern California, even leading up to Nevada. While we Californians do enjoy rain every now and then, waking up to this storm was different -- even life-changing. Heavy amounts of rain poured onto land in Santa Barbara County. These affected areas were once hit by 2017's most destructive wildfire ever recorded in modern Californian history. Due to the lack of vegetation that would usually absorb the rain, such has caused excess amounts of debris to overflow, creating deadly and destructive mud-slides to spread across Santa Barbara County -- hitting Montecito the most.
The Thomas Fire that swept Ventura last month, did what every wildfire does: it dried up the soil and spilled ash on top. Remember... this was no ordinary wildfire – this was the largest wildfire ever recorded in California's modern history. The area the fire burned wasn’t simply square footage – it burned hillsides. And thanks to gravity, things fall down hillsides. So, when several inches of rain falls onto hill after hill after hill of dry, loose soil, the result is mud that falls down those hills.
There were numerous forecasts and warnings from a variety of warning systems,
but no warning system is perfect,
and no one news alert can reach every single individual, and many were caught off guard.
When the loose soil of a charred hill turns to mud from large amounts rain in a short time, the mud is much more liquid than it might normally be. As a result, this liquid mud does what any liquid on a hillside would do: it goes down. It’s hard to imagine until you see it, but think of an entire hillside – the top layer, all of it, could fall into itself and move right over whatever stood below. Literally tons of mud descend on any structures – or any people – caught in its way.
Mudslides in Santa Barbara County have caused 17 deaths so far, with dozens missing and hundreds more injured, and still more trapped in. Property owners, local residents and workers were affected; many lost vehicles or even entire homes. Even if it didn’t destroy the entire building, the mudslides caused significant property damage, costing some owners millions of dollars in damages. Hundreds of cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles have also been completely destroyed or rendered inoperable.
As of Thursday morning, there were 17 deaths reported from mudslides in Montecito and other parts of Santa Barbara County. 160 injuries had been reported by the same time. Dozens of local residents have been stranded inside their homes, some were stranded on rooftops, or inside their cars, and many are still awaiting rescue. First respondents are still on the scenes in many areas looking for missing persons and helping others become free of the mud. It is expected that some of those missing can be presumed dead, and may not be found at all until the mud can be cleared away. Anyone who lives or works where mudslides have occurred will be dealing with cleanup and restoration for weeks, months, and possibly years to come.
Montecito is in the news, as this appears to be where most of the major slides happened. The mudslides have actually affected many areas of Santa Barbara County and Ventura County, including up highways 150 and 33. Stretches of the 101 North were temporarily closed due to mud (report) but have since been reopened.
A giant mudslide can destroy property, but financial ruin destroys families. When sudden disasters or catalytic events like this happen, many often don't know what to do -- or are unaware of their rights, or what options they have available to them. Call us to discuss the details of your loss and what can be done to begin your steps to recovery. Unlike other firms, we're here to help. Don't Settle for Less.
888-529-3111 Monday-Friday, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
— Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.
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