California Mudslides Kill at Least 17

Leah Hickman | Contributor to | Thursday, January 11, 2018

California Mudslides Kill at Least 17

On Tuesday, drought-ridden Southern California finally saw some rain, but the downpour came with disastrous results, causing mudslides that have wrecked homes and killed at least 17 people.

Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the primary counties affected by the downpour, were the same counties that were overwhelmed by the Thomas Fire this winter. As CNN explains,this fire was the largest in California’s recorded history, and it’s still going on. Even though the fire started about a month ago, officials say that they don’t expect for it to be fully contained until later in January.

According to reports, this fire and the several years of drought that have afflicted the area made the counties especially susceptible to dangerous mudslides. In the absence of healthy growing plants, the soil in the area is loose and easily moved by heavy rainfall, which leads to mudslides. In certain areas, the rain came at a rate of more than 1.5 inches per hour, the CNN article says. As the article also reports, one town in Ventura County received “nearly 1 inch [of rain] … in just 15 minutes.”

Residents of the counties described the result of this overwhelming rain as a “river of mud.” In some areas, these rivers were so massive that they reportedly “wiped homes away from their foundations.” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, when interviewed by CNN, described the aftermath of the flood as “a World War I battlefield.” He went on to note that fallen powerlines, trees, and other debris would pose a challenge for rescue personnel, making it hard for them to aid victims trapped in their homes.

Brown believes that the death toll could continue to rise as mud and water continues to destroy these counties.


Leah Hickman is a 2017 graduate of Hillsdale College’s English program. She freelances for and has written pieces for multiple Hillsdale College campus publications as well as for and the Discover Laura Blog. Read more by Leah at

Photo: Abandoned vehicles sit on a flooded section of Highway 101 following a mudslide on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 17 people have died and hundreds hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. 

Photo courtesy: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Publication date: January 11, 2018

California Mudslides Kill at Least 17