Mudslides, flash floods threaten Southern California two months after deadly storm
iStock/Thinkstock(MONTECITO, Calif.) — Heavy rain has Southern California on alert for flash flooding and mudslides on Thursday, two months after deadly mudslides in Montecito.
About 2.5 inches of rain have fallen in Ventura County, and 2 inches in Santa Barbara and Montecito.
Rainfall rates could be as high as an inch per hour, potentially causing mudslides and rockslides.
In Santa Barbara County, 30,000 people were told to evacuate, including residents of Montecito.
The Jan. 9 storm in Montecito killed 21 people, left two children missing and destroyed many homes.
Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department described the aftermath of the January mudslide as a “battlefield” and “unrecognizable.”
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years, and I’ve never seen anything just so tragic in my life,” he told ABC News on Wednesday.
The “monster storm” on Jan. 9 “dropped a half-an-inch of rain in 15 minutes and an inch of rain in half an hour,” Zaniboni said. “And that’s what caused the debris flow.”
The area is now expecting a bigger storm, but it will be over a longer period of time, which eases the debris flow, he said.
Extra troops have been brought in, including the National Guard.
“This is the biggest storm we’ve had since Jan. 9,” Zaniboni said.
“Because this storm is so widespread and so long in duration, we’re concerned about any heavy cells, any thunderstorm that might center over these mountain areas,” Zaniboni said. “Right now, they’re doing a great job as far as the creeks and stuff go. They’re funneling all the water off the mountains, and the creeks are running clear.”
“Since Jan. 9, the Army Corps of Engineers has been in here working hand in hand with Santa Barbara County Flood Control,” he said. “They’ve been working around the clock and got all of those debris basins and all those creeks clear.”
The rain will continue all day and get lighter by later Thursday afternoon and evening.
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