Saturday , January 20 2018
Home / News / World / Mudslides: ‘It looks like 10 bombs went off’

Mudslides: ‘It looks like 10 bombs went off’

Family members inspect the inside of a home covered in mud
Image: A family inspects the damage inside their home

Greg Milam

US Correspondent

Greg Milam

The winter sunshine and cool Pacific breeze has returned to Montecito. It somehow makes the devastation here all the more dramatic to see.

Under crystal clear blue skies, the grey, sucking mud still clings to whole sections of this idyllic coastal town.

Authorities say 400 family homes were destroyed or damaged in the mudslides. Some were simply wiped out, others shifted off their foundations.

“It looks like 10 bombs went off,” one man told me.


Few families have yet been able to return home. Neighbourhoods are crawling with rescue teams and utility crews.

The smell of natural gas hangs in the air as workmen try to reconnect power lines and police bark orders at passers-by. Even now, it is a chaotic scene.

We were in these very mountain communities just a few weeks ago as they fell victim to the ravages of wildfires.

Abadoned cars stuck in flooded water on the freeway after a mudslide in Montecito, California
Image: Montecito is counting the cost of the devastating mudslides

No matter how many times we see these scenes of devastation in hurricanes, tornadoes, fires or floods, the power of nature never ceases to amaze.

How mud, water and debris can shatter people’s lives in a matter of seconds. How a house can just be taken away.

An aerial view from a Ventura County Sheriff helicopter shows a site damaged by mudslide in Montecito, California

Natural disasters are not choosy as to whether they hit the rich or poor.

In wealthy places like Montecito though, the victims often have more options in times like these.

Thanks everyone for your prayers and concern. My property is fine.Some mud , and minor damage that pales in comparison to what my neighbors are going thru. #mudslides🙏🏾

A post shared by Oprah (@oprah) on

But there is something surreal about the perfectly manicured golf course greens on one side of the road and the apocalyptic moonscape of mud swallowing homes on the other.

We see again the fluky nature of who gets hit and who gets lucky. One house obliterated, its next door neighbour just fine.

The devastation caused by deadly mudslides in Montecito, California
Image: 400 family homes were destroyed or damaged

Mud fills the interior of a car destroyed in a rain-driven mudslide in a neighbourhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018
Image: The inside of a car struck by the mudslides

It is the peculiar geography of Santa Barbara area – steep mountains so close to the sea – that has made its air so popular to breathe.

It is that same geography that created the perfect conditions for such devastation when the rain – so desperately needed in Southern California – seemed to come all at once.

More from California

  • California mudslides: Rescuers race against time to find 17 missing people

  • California mudslides: Family plucked from debris in dramatic rescue

  • Devastation after deadly California mudslides

  • Homes destroyed in California mudslides

  • California mudslides kill 13 people as search for survivors continues

  • ‘Nuclear alien UFO from N Korea’ jokes Musk

Like every place hit by a natural disaster, the recovery will be long and slow. It is estimated the main water line to the town could be out of action for months.

But those who can rebuild know they are the lucky ones: they survived.

More US news

  • Previous article California mudslides: Number of missing lowered
  • Next article Man ‘happy to be alive’ after bear attack

  • Check Also

    Tests on Cranberries singer O’Riordan’s body

    Dolores O'Riordan
    Image: Dolores O’Riordan was to sing on a new version of Zombie with Bad Wolves

    A coroner is awaiting results of “various tests” to determine what caused the death of The Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan.

    At the opening of the inquest, Westminster Coroner’s Court was told that O’Riordan was found unresponsive in her hotel room on Monday and declared dead at the scene by ambulance workers.

    Coroner’s officer Stephen Earl said: “A post-mortem examination has now taken place and the court is awaiting the results of various tests that have been commissioned.”

    O’Riordan, 46, had been in London for a recording session at the time of her death, her publicist said earlier this week.

    She had been staying at the Hilton on Park Lane.

    Police have said they do not think her death is suspicious.

    Tributes have been paid by singers, producers and even Irish President Michael D Higgins, who described O’Riordan and her Irish rock band as having had an immense influence on rock and pop music in Ireland and internationally.

    More from The Cranberries

    • The Cranberries Zombie cover to raise money for singer Dolores O’Riordan’s children

    • Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan’s death not suspicious

    • The Cranberries: A sweet and lingering fruit of the 90s

    • Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan had planned to re-record Zombie the day after her death

    The Cranberries formed in the Irish city of Limerick at the end of the 1980s.

    Their international hits included the songs Dream, Linger and Zombie.

    More stories

    • Previous article Eight killed in Germany by storm that swept UK
    • Next article Disgraced ex-Olympics doctor faces abuse accusers