—Christian Slater, Staff Writer—
Southern California has been majorly affected by the immense fires destroying the land as well as the droughts as a result. The wildfires such as the massive Thomas Fire were only the beginning of what hit many defenseless individuals and their homes. The California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection was on high alert and many inhabitants in the Santa Barbara area of California were encouraged to flee until the areas surrounding were safe due to the probability of more fires. Many families made the decision to wait it out in hopes that the destruction was over.
One after the other, sequential events lead up to the mudslide tragedy that many residents in the US couldn’t even imagine. The morning of Tuesday, January 9th, houses around Southern California were flooded with mud due to the lack of plant life and their ability to soak up the abundance of liquidity resulting in erosion. The unexpected effect of rain on the charred surfaces left almost nothing standing. Unfortunately, Friends, family members, and possessions were quickly swept away in a matter of seconds due to spontaneous mudslides. Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres were affected first hand by the natural disaster and their homes were affected negatively in addition to the Southern Californian communities. Mudslides are a result of mass saturation of the earth due to natural disturbances in the environment such as fires and earthquakes regularly seen in California. The California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection ( CDFFP ) has confirmed 21 deaths and as many as 43 people that have been considered missing due to their unknown whereabouts and physical state.
The familiar earthquakes of this region and recent fires contributed to unsafe land consistencies and the fatal natural tragedy. Rain showers poured onto the recently burnt terrain and ultimately caused loose land masses to slide due to the lack of tethering of plant life. Large amounts of rocks and boulders slid from hillsides creating a setting one can only imagine. Nearby neighborhoods in Southern California were destroyed leaving many unexpecting people without homes, lost loved ones, and in need of medical care. The region is in shambles and a miracle is necessary to reimplement the sense of home that was taken so suddenly.
California has been in a drought. The rain came as a blessing to many as they had their vegetation and agriculture in mind; not knowing of the devastation to come. Unexpectedly, the rainfall was extremely overwhelming and dense when even small water amounts can cause the unanchored soil to erode and cause mudslides. The efforts of the CDFFP are still in effect to find missing victims and help reinstate order and allow many to go back to life before the incident. Who’s to say it won’t happen again? Moral of this tragedy is to take warnings seriously in a time of risk. Many lives could have been saved if the alert was broadcasted at a more intense rate. Efforts are being initiated to make sure that California is more prepared for future events life this.
*Cover photo courtesy of reuters.com*