Rain is a gift and curse in Southern California.
And if they say it never rains in the area, they lied.
This time, torrential rains from the first major winter storm, flooded the area then caused mudslides that left 17 people dead, hundreds evacuated and over 300 properties destroyed.
Still recovering from last month’s wildfires, rain drenched Santa Barbara County this past Tuesday. Some parched areas with less ability to absorb water from unexpected flash floods eroded the soil. The sludge that formed sent massive rocks, trees and mud down cliffs.
Cars smashed flattened by waves of mud. Some parts of highways turned into rivers of mucky earth. In some areas, homes were knocked off of their foundation or buried.
The most affected area was Montecito, Calif. a district housing some affluent residents. Popular entertainment mogul and Montecito resident, Oprah Winfrey, posted damages made to her proper on her Instagram page. A video of her walking through a sludge of a soil and plant matter pales comparison to others.
She was spared. Some of her neighbors experienced more damage and others did not make it at all.
Wildfires, Now Floods
The mudslide originated in the Santa Ynez Mountains, a part of a range hilly landscapes situated off of the California coast. With winding roads known for its picturesque views overlooking the Pacific, it turned into a site of carnage.
Just last month, the same area was up in smoke for two massive wildfires. The damage of fires left miles of seared wildlife along with debris and uprooted plants from emergency workers to quell flames.
Similarly, the dry lands in Haiti left barren from years of deforestation, the severely dehydrated soil is so packed that the earth turns into concrete rather than a sponge. As rainwater forms into pools of water, at some points, the disturbance of soil shifts to cascading mud.
Luckily, the authorities called for an evacuation. More lives could be trapped like the mudslide that occurred in Frenchtown, Sierre Leone this past August that left 400 dead.
In California, people begin to assess damages of another natural disaster.