SANTA BARBARA, CA — Flooding, mudslides, and mudflows that began Tuesday, January 9, decimated parts of Southern California after heavy rain filled areas affected by the recent Thomas wildfire, according to multiple news outlets.
Update: While trees, plants, and other vegetation would normally slow rainwater, hindering the flow of water and helping prevent soil from being gathered up into mudflows, the fire-ravaged sections of California affected by the recent rainstorms has no little remaining vegetation to stop the fast-moving water. The death toll currently stands at 21, though two children are still missing.
While rescuers continue to search for victims in the debris, survivors have begun to question how they will recover. According to CNN, the event has damaged close to 500 homes in Santa Barbara County as well as 20 commercial buildings. Another 65 homes and eight commercial buildings were completely destroyed. On Tuesday, January 21, officials began lifting some mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders in western parts of the affected area, though other mandatory evacuation orders remain in place, according to Southern California public radio network KPCC.
By midday on January 9, images began to surface on social media of the damage to the area. Fabiola Ramirez of NBC’s KSBY News tweeted multiple views of the destruction from the flooding and mudflows:
— Fabiola Ramirez (@_FabRamirez) January 9, 2018
— Fabiola Ramirez (@_FabRamirez) January 10, 2018
Multiple outlets reported Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown’s view of the mudslides. “It looked like a World War I battlefield,” he said.
We will continue to update this story as it develops. Check back for updates.