After extreme fires ravaged Southern California during the month of December, Santa Barbara was hit once again, this time with a mudslide.
On Tuesday Jan. 10, over 20 people were killed by the devastating mudslide. The slide took place in the Montecito area, damaging homes, buildings and roads. Although it has been about a month since the mudslide occurred, many areas are still inaccessible.
According to senior Isabella Karman, who left her family’s second house in Santa Barbara two days before the mudslide took place, there are scattered boulders surrounding her house.
“All the debris left on the mountain from the fire just completely collected into this huge mudslide that came down the mountain. There were boulders coming down and all this mud and it hit a lot of the houses hard,” Karman said.
Karman’s house was one of many that suffered from the mudslide. While her house was not completely destroyed, her garage door was torn off and a nearby creek overflowed onto their property.
“The boulders hit our garage and broke the garage door off and the pool was filled with mud,” Karman said.
Karman’s grandparents, who live in the area, have been updating her family on the state of their home.
“Property damage always kind of sucks, but I’m just glad that a lot of our friends and family are safe,” Karman said. “Especially since
once you’re in the mud, it’s so heavy that it just compacts you down and you suffocate even though you’re above it.”
Karman’s mother visited her family’s home this past week and was unaware of how much damage there was, as several houses were completely gone. However, when Karman spoke to her mother she was surprised to hear how supportive the community has been.
“One thing that she noticed that I thought was pretty cool, is that even though there was this disaster, it really brought the community together. All the neighbors have been helping each other and making sure everyone is alright. I think it’s kind of nice to look at the positive side of it. I think while it’s sad, I think it will result in a closer-knit community in Montecito,” Karman said.
According to Karman, in addition to the physical damage from the mudslides, many families are encountering financial difficulties in repairing structures.
In addition to the residential areas of Santa Barbara, other communities have been impacted, some of which include both Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Alumnus Caitlyn Reed, who graduated from Redwood last year and is currently attending SBCC, had to evacuate when her school was shut down due to the slides. Although the campus was not affected, the school’s final exams were postponed as a result of the recent natural disasters.
Reed was not directly affected by recent tragedies, but she has been made more aware of how natural disasters can affect a community.
“It sombers you a little bit. It makes you realize how powerful nature is and how we bend to its will,” Reed said.
Callie Monroe Watts, who graduated from Redwood in 2016 and is currently a sophomore at University of California Santa Barbara, also had to evacuate due to the fires which were the leading cause of the mudslides.
According to Monroe Watts, some students were unable to return to school because of roads being shut down.
“People were literally taking boats from LA to Santa Barbara because there was no other way, and it took six hours to drive from LA to here and usually it takes an hour and a half,” Monroe Watts said.
On campus, some fraternity houses were damaged and students are helping to fundraise money in order for the houses to be fixed, according to Monroe Watts.
Although Monroe Watts has returned to school, the destruction from the mudslides is extensive and she is unsure of what to expect after the Montecito area is cleaned up.
“It’s really scary and really sad because Montecito is so pretty and so close to us and we have been around there and know how devastating [the mudslide] is to the area,” Monroe Watts said. “The fires were really upsetting, but the mudslides actually killed more people, so it’s really upsetting to hear especially when you’re in school and trying to carry on while this is all happening.”