SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Hundreds of people are still awaiting rescue after deadly mudslides have blanketed areas of California, east of Santa Barbara.
Fifteen people have died and rescuers say dozens are still missing in the debris. The deluge of mud has destroyed homes and made several major roadways impassable.
“It’s like rivers of mud that appear to be the consistency of lava coming at you,” resident Beau Weaver said.
Weaver is a FOX31 voice-over artist. While he covers the news, he is not used to being in the middle of it. Last month he had to evacuate as flames ripped through Ventura County.
“You could see walls of flames that appeared to be between 50 and 100 feet high. They were just moving so fast,” Weaver said.
Now just a few weeks later, that California burn scar and lack of vegetation has made the area prone to flash flooding.
Video captures rivers of mud as it rushes down the hillside, demolishing homes in its path. Weaver took steps to prepare.
“I even took the precaution of leaning a ladder up against the house in case a flow came through and we had to get up on top of the roof,” Weaver said.
Weaver lives in the small town of Ojai. He said so far the mudslides haven’t moved through, but he is cut off from U.S. 101 as it’s coated in debris.
He is concerned in the coming days that the slightest rainfall could cause more damage.
“The hillsides are still very precarious, and there are debris flows that could still happen. There’s some major engineering of those hills that needs to be done before traffic can be let through again,” Weaver said.
Weaver said the community is resilient, but he fears the recent natural disasters may impact tourism and the local economy.
“People have in their minds the fires and the mudslides and may decide not to come and how that ripples out to the people who work for the resorts and day spas and things like that," Weaver said. "It’s going to affect us for a long time to come.”