California: Millions affected by flood

California

Image Source: PBS

This weekend, about 25 million people in California are under a flood warning as the latest in a string of storms that have killed people pours rain on the state.

Several waterways have been flooded, and at least 19 people have died. Thousands of other people have been told to leave.

Residents of Montecito, which is 84 miles (135 km) northwest of Los Angeles, say that the rain makes their pain worse.

In 2018, a mudslide killed 23 people here, and many people are worried that it could happen again.

Rita Bourbon says that it was the work of Italian stone masons that saved her life. A skilled worker built her house more than a hundred years ago. She calls it a fortress.

She lived through the storm five years ago, when boulders and houses that had been torn from their foundations fell on her while she was inside crying with her child and many friends.

The next day, the area along the coast from Los Angeles was destroyed, and more than two dozen people died. Her neighbor was one of them; she found his body in the mud in her garden.

This week, Montecito Creek got very angry, so fire officials told everyone in the area to “Leave Now!” This included some of the most famous people in California, like Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle.

Even though Montecito residents no longer have to leave their homes, they are still worried. Floods and landslides are a real danger because so much of the earth is already wet.

Abe Powell is one of the people who started the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade in 2018. This group was made to help volunteers clean up after the devastating mudslide.

Powell led volunteers across town this week, filling sandbags and digging trenches. He took us up a steep mountain road where huge stones and muck made entry to some residences difficult.

Steve McGlothen, a film producer, is one of the volunteers. He’s been in the neighborhood for 50 years and has lived on the cliffs for 27.

He added that assisting others distracts him from his farm’s problems and anguish as the rain continues to fall. Plastic sheets cover the slope, which fell away for the first time this week to keep the recent rain from aggravating the slide.

California Governor Gavin Newsom joined volunteers in Santa Barbara to fill sandbags. He claims the place will be a “hot point” for the next few days.

Californians are used to extreme weather, such as wildfires, drought, and earthquakes, and many are bracing for the “Big One” prophesied by many experts. The “storm parade” hammering California, on the other hand, is unparalleled.

At least 19 individuals have perished due to the storms that began in late December. Furthermore, a five-year-old boy is still missing after being kidnapped from his mother’s clutches in fast-moving flood water on his way to school in central California.

Northern California vineyards have been inundated. Capitola’s historic port has been wrecked, and the beach town has been destroyed. Furthermore, the river is endangering California’s prized agricultural heartland by rising through the renowned Salinas Valley.

US President Joe Biden has now dispatched government aid to Sacramento, Merced, and Santa Cruz counties.

According to Nasa climate scientist Kimberley Rain Miner, the problem with having so many large storms so close together is that the earth is already saturated and cannot absorb the rainfall pouring so quickly.

Everyone in California is watching their phones, waiting to hear if they need to evacuate and wondering where they can go if they do.

Montecito in California is vulnerable to mudslides

The upscale hamlet of Montecito, California, was ordered to evacuate on Monday due to mudslides.

The coastal town is home to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and other celebrities.

Another storm hit the town five years ago today, triggering severe mudslides, killing 23 people and destroying over 100 homes.

Sixteen people have died due to the storm ravaging southern California.

In the last 24 hours, the US National Weather Service (NWS) reported that up to 14in (35.5cm) of rain fell in Santa Barbara, Montecito’s region.

According to experts, Montecito’s location between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains contributes to the affluent town’s vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods and mudslides.

Larry Gurrola, an engineering geologist based near Santa Barbara, spoke with the BBC.

According to him, the place is dangerous because of the steep topography of the mountains to the east and the two types of rock that make up the mountain.

The Santa Ynez Mountains are built of erodible shale and sandstone and climb 4,864 feet (1482 meters) above sea level.

Mr. Gurrola claims that a “rapid increase in height causes greater precipitation at a higher elevation.” And all of it falls on the town.

Read Also: California may experience heavy flood, expert warns

Weather is another factor that might contribute to mudslides. California has been suffering from a drought for some years, leaving the landscape barren and arid.

Similarly, when wildfires rage in the area, they can kill vegetation that would ordinarily absorb part of the heavy rain.

According to Mr. Gurrola, post-fire conditions can significantly increase “runoff velocity,” which is the rate at which debris and precipitation flow down a mountain’s slope.

After a fire, debris may flow 50 times faster than before.

Opinions expressed by Miami Wire contributors are their own.

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