The Scribe

A Slippery Slope with Mudslides

Courtesy+of+John+Shea.+%0AImmense+damage+was+dealt+to+properties+in+range+of+the+mudslides+in+California.
Courtesy of John Shea. 
Immense damage was dealt to properties in range of the mudslides in California.

Courtesy of John Shea. Immense damage was dealt to properties in range of the mudslides in California.

Courtesy of John Shea. Immense damage was dealt to properties in range of the mudslides in California.

Roberto Cotlear, Staff Writer

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California’s Santa Barbara County has been suffering since Thursday, January, 11 when a massive mudslide flooded the streets. Reports state that as of Friday, January 12, twenty people, their ages ranging from three to eighty-nine, have been identified as dead and more are still missing. For the past few days, search parties have been searching the mud-flooded area for survivors. According to CNN, about a thousand people have gone out to look for any remaining survivors. The sheriff of Santa Barbara County, Bill Brown, said to CNN, “We realistically suspect that we are going to continue to have discoveries of people who were killed in this incident.” The search parties searched through more than sixty destroyed houses and hundreds more that were gravely damaged. On Thursday, January 11, county officials increased the evacuation zones for nearby areas.
There are many factors known to cause mudslides. According to USA Today, a mudslide is caused by a disturbance in the stability of the slope of a mountain. The flow of mud can descend strong enough to drag boulders, trees, and cars in its powerful trail. These irregularities are caused by conditions such as heavy rain and wildfires, both of which were prevalent in California. It all began with the Thomas wildfire that burned over 281,000 acres of forest around Ventura and Santa Barbara County. This fire decimated the trees which were supposed to be the main line of defense for potential mudslides. After the fire was put out, the areas’ rainy season began. Two to three feet of water pelted the mountainside the morning of the mudslide, creating the mud that would eventually become a natural disaster. The slippery mud allowed all the heavy boulders and rocks that were lodged in the mountain to become loose and slide down.
Sunday night, January 13, the people of Santa Barbara county gathered to mourn the twenty dead. According to the Tribune, the rain could affect the condition of Highway 101, and the city’s plan to fully reopen it as soon as possible. Tom Fayram, the water resources deputy director of the Santa Barbara County public works department, wants to use the upcoming rain to test out the city’s water drainage system. He stated “We don’t know the full extent of our drainage system damage, but we will find out, and we’ll find its weakness and we’ll fix it.” He hopes that the rain will not affect the current condition the town is in. Trucks have come to help clear away all the debris that was left as a result of the storm.
Rain is not the only issue that people of Santa Barbara County are worried about. According to KTLA, some members of the Santa Barbara county are suing the Southern California Edison, a large power company that they accuse of starting the Thomas fire, as well as the Montecito Water Financing corporation, complaining about a pipe break that caused nine million gallons of water to mix with the mud and increase the intensity and damages of the mudslides. Hopefully, recovery efforts will be successful and repairs for the damaged county can be achieved.

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A Slippery Slope with Mudslides