Wildfires devastated parts of Southern California several weeks ago, with the Thomas Fire in Ventura County growing to become the largest in modern history, and the Creek, Rey and Skirball fires claiming more than a hundred structures between the three of them.
But with nearly all the fires fully contained, many a SoCal resident may have thought that the nightmare was finally over. As last week’s rains proved, this isn’t the case at all.
17 people have been killed this week in deadly mudslides and floods across those areas ravaged by fires. Floodwaters and mudslides destroyed 100 homes and damaged 300 in Santa Barbara County, while closer to home in Burbank, a mudslide damaged nearly 50 homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.
Burbank was also several vehicles were carried off by flash floods on Tuesday. One car would go on to strike a three-quarter-inch natural gas line in the 1200 block of Country Club Drive Tuesday, leaving much of the street without gas or electric services. Another was the subject of a harrowing viral video.
“I heard a rumbling as I was lying in the bed and I woke up,” driver Desionne Franklin said. He was the driver of a Prius that was swept through Country Club Drive in Burbank. “I told my girlfriend, ‘Hey, I don’t know what’s happening, but we’ve got to get ready to go.’”
Duarte, also the site of a major fire last year, was another community that faced evacuations ahead of flash flood. Duarte city officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for about 180 homes near the Fish Fire burn area, beginning at 7 p.m. on Jan. 08, with residents not allowed to return until the next day. Classes were canceled for Tuesday at Valley View Elementary School.
Meteorologists aren’t sure when rain will return, although some almanacs predict more precipitation later this month. In either case, officials are clear that the best way to prevent mudslides and floods from becoming deadly is to pay attention and evacuate when necessary.