Last updated on January 25th, 2023 at 11:05 am
The Montecito mudslide was a very deadly event, which occurred in Southern California in early January of 2018. This series of mudflows affected areas of Santa Barbara County, and was responsible for 23 deaths.
Montecito Deadly mudslide
A mudslide swept through Montecito, California, on January 9, 2018. In the hours following the storm, a tidal wave of debris and mud swept down the coast, destroying homes and businesses along the way.
Montecito is an upscale seaside community nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It has a population of 8,200. There were several evacuations of the area, and many roads were closed.
The mudslide claimed 23 lives. Among the victims were a family of three. Summer Baker-Corey, her half-sister Sawyer Corey and their mother Carie Baker-Corey were swept away. Several other families lost members, including the Taylor-Sutthithepa family, who lost two young children and their grandfather.
The disaster also left dozens of people injured. Some fire hydrants were sheared off by the mud flows, and hundreds of horses were trapped in the floodwaters.
Many residents have lost power. Some schools closed. Many water mains were destroyed, and the water service restoration is still uncertain.
Costly mudslide basins
The Montecito debris flow occurred in early January 2018. It caused a catastrophic mudslide that ripped through the community and killed 21 people and destroyed more than a dozen homes. The mudslide was the result of heavy rainfall and a burn scar from the Thomas Fire.
Debris basins were designed to catch rocks, brush, and trees. But the older ones weren’t built to handle the magnitude of the mudslide. They also weren’t able to stop the worst impacts of fallen trees and boulders.
A debris basin can hold 7,000 cubic yards of storm runoff. However, Cold Springs Creek’s catchment basin is only two-thirds full.
Researchers are trying to find a solution that will keep the debris basins open and functional. In order to do that, they are studying how debris flows are formed.
One of the best ways to do that is to study the historic record. For example, in a recent study, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara identified a debris flow in Montecito 1,000 years ago.
Old Spanish Town wiped out by mudslide
The mudslide in Montecito on January 9th, 2018, was a catastrophe for the town, destroying homes and uprooting trees. The town had received about 12 inches of rain. In fact, it was the worst natural disaster in Santa Barbara County in five years.
The flooding followed by giant boulders smashed through the community, ripping homes in half and creating a muddy mess. There were tens of thousands of people without power.
The Montecito area is a beachside community in Santa Barbara County. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the area has experienced several floods over the past century.
One year after the mudslide, many parts of the community are still being rebuilt. Several remembrance events will be held this month. One of them is the Raising Our Light: Evening of Remembrance in Montecito on Wednesday night.
The upper village shops of the town are structurally intact, though dripping with mud. But the biggest scars are the hillsides.
Insurance claims excluded
When the Thomas Fire destroyed over 300,000 acres of land in Santa Barbara County, California, the mudslide that resulted from the fire was not covered under the standard homeowner’s insurance policy. This is despite the fact that the fire was a covered peril under California law.
Because of this, some homeowners are facing legal battles with their insurers. Some have even been told that their policy does not cover mudslides.
It is important to be familiar with your insurance policy before filing a claim. If your policy covers a loss that was caused by a covered peril, the damage will be covered, but if it is not, your insurance company may choose to deny your claim.
The Department of Insurance recently issued a notice to all property and casualty insurers in California. Insurers are invited to attend a workshop.
The California Legislature has passed a bill that clarifies coverage for mudflows and debris flows. After the Thomas Fire, hundreds of homes in Montecito were damaged by mudslides.