Devastating Mudslides Rip Through Fire-Impacted California Communities

Devastation is evident throughout the Montecito area after the January 9 mudslides. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

Powerful rains washed over fire-denuded hillsides on January 9, creating deadly and devastating flooding for communities across Southern California.

First responders are working in the community of Montecito, where at least 20 people have been reported dead and more than 25 injured as a result of the flooding and debris flow that swept through in the early morning hours. More than 50 rescues have also been conducted in the hours since the floodwaters rose.

Rescue workers in Montecito on Jan. 11, 2018, following deadly mudslides. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

The community is interspersed below and among hills that were badly burned in the Thomas Fire, and many of the residents in homes impacted by Tuesday’s flooding had been previously evacuated due to proximity to the blaze.

Much of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, both heavily impacted by the Thomas Fire, are at risk for further flooding and mudflows.

Direct Relief is based in Santa Barbara and has staff on the ground, mobilizing support to respond to the developing situation.

Many people have been evacuated from their homes as a result of the flooding. Evacuations often leave people with chronic conditions vulnerable when medicines are not brought along. Without extra medication to manage diabetes, hypertension or asthma, a person can fall into medical crisis, forcing an emergency room visit or worse.

Direct Relief is coordinating with  medical needs and is communicating with Santa Barbara County Public Health and Emergency Services Departments, as well as the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to coordinate its response.

– Editor’s note: This post was updated on January 17, 2018.