Thousands ordered to evacuate in California as brutal storm sparks mudslides fears for areas ravaged by wildfires

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
By Paul Martin

Evacuation orders are in effect in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties
All schools in Malibu are closed on Tuesday as residents rush to get out
Voluntary evacuation also underway in Riverside County burn areas
Areas are at heightened risk of mudslides after the state’s wildfires last year
Fires stripped land of vegetation which act as protection against heavy rain
Comes one year after post-wildfire mudslides killed 21 in Southern California

15 January 2019

Residents of hundreds of homes in three California counties have been ordered to to pack up and leave as a Pacific storm threatens potential mudslide catastrophe.

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect on Tuesday at 8am in parts of Los Angeles County and 10am in parts of Santa Barbara County that were devastated by the Woolsey Fire.

In Riverside County, mandatory evacuation orders for dozens of areas around the Holy Fire were downgraded to voluntary early on Tuesday, but authorities urged people to stay alert because of continuing rain forecasts.

It come a year after a mudslide swept through a fire-devastated California town, killing 23 people.

After a devastating fire that burned and destabilized foothills, Montecito was hit by a powerful storm on January 9, 2018, that sent water, mud and boulders sluicing down creeks and canyons. Twenty-three people died and over 100 homes were destroyed.

Residents of the plush neighborhood of Montecito were suffering ‘evacuation fatigue’ from last month’s deadly wildfires when they chose to ignore orders to leave their homes as deadly mudslides threatened them, officials said.

One Tuesday in Santa Barbara County on the central coast, evacuation orders were set to take effect for areas hit by the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas fires.

‘Gather family members, pets, and essential items,’ a county statement said. A debris flow could also make roads impassable and strand people near the evacuation areas, especially in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, the county warned.

Weather forecasters have predicted a series of storms that could continue to bring rain and snow into the middle of the week.

Flash flood watches were issued by the National Weather Service for burn areas in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, which could see as much as an inch of rain per hour from Tuesday afternoon into the evening.

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