Weeks after being set ablaze with wildfires, California was hit with a series of deadly mudslides that left devastation in their wake. Sadly, more than a dozen people have tragically lost their lives.
Unfortunately, the natural disasters that plagued the Golden State in 2017 continued on in the new year. After the Thomas Fire – the largest wildfire in California’s recorded history – ravaged the landscape in December, the southern part of the state was hit by a massive storm. Rain fell at more than 1.5 inches per hour, according to CNN, causing a series of horrific mudslides that uprooted trees, washed cars right off the road, and left homes utterly destroyed. Hundreds of first responders worked diligently through waist-high mud in search of survivors. As of Jan. 10, 13 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured.
“It was literally a carpet of mud and debris everywhere, with huge boulders, rocks, down trees, power lines, wrecked cars — lots of obstacles and challenges for rescue personnel to get to homes,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. Montecito and Carpinteria were the towns most devastated by the mudslides, according to Amber Anderson, a spokesperson with the Santa Barbara County Incident Management Team, per the Washington Post. A Santa Barbara County fire official, who declined to provide his name, called what he say a scene out of a disaster movie.
“Inside the debris we’re finding bodies,” he said. ”This whole mountain has been burned, and anytime water hits it’s not shedding into any bushes because they’re all burned. Any water that hits the surface is coming at us and causing debris and mud to flow. It’s probably going to happen again and again. This is just the first storm. It’s probably going to happen again and again.”’
Days ahead of the disaster, local officials advised residents that a coming storm could trigger major mudflows, according to the Los Angeles Times. While mandatory evacuation orders were issued on Jan. 7 to foothill communities, areas closer to where the Thomas fire had burned away the landscape that would normally absorb water, voluntary evacuation orders were issued to other communities. It sounds foolish, but, it’s like, ‘How bad can it get?'” Bridget Bottoms, a resident who’s home was wrecked in the flooding and mudslides, told the LA Times.
— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) January 10, 2018
"Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara." Oprah Winfrey shared videos of knee-deep mud in her backyard and helicopters making rescues amid the California mudslides https://t.co/1P9lhGWSs7 pic.twitter.com/JKDz0IwTvz
— CNN (@CNN) January 10, 2018
Not even Oprah Winfrey, 63, arguably one of the biggest stars on the planet, was left unaffected by this storm. Mere days after she lit up the world with her powerful speech at the 2018 Golden Globes awards, the A Wrinkle In Time actress sheared photos of her home being wrecked by the mudslides. “Woke up to this blazing gas fire,” she posted to her Instagram. “Swipe left to see how deep the mud is in my backyard.” Thankfully, Oprah is okay. Here’s hoping that everyone else comes out of this disaster safe and sound.
Check out the pictures of the mudslides above, HollywoodLifers. Our thoughts are with those affected.