Whether you’re in Los Angeles or Ventura County, there’s been no escaping it. Winter has come again to Southern California — in the form of lots and lots of rain. But much as we need it, a weeklong deluge comes with a particular set of difficulties.
With the ground primed for failure in the wake of November’s disastrous wildfires, mudslides are all but guaranteed. It’s a one-two punch that no one wants, but if history bears out it has the potential to pack a wallop. Homes narrowly spared by 2017’s Thomas Fire’s were all but washed away weeks later, along with the people inside them. Last year’s mudflows cost Southern California’s more than $200 million dollars in property damages, emergency responses, and recovery efforts combined — as well as the lives of 21 loved ones.
Ventura County officials fear a repeat. Even two months later the Woolsey and Hill Fires remain hot on everyone’s minds: “what’s going to happen to all that scorched terrain?”
With the coastal areas of Ventura County expecting at least another 1-2.5 inches of rain tonight, and with upwards of double that forecasted for the mountains north of Ojai, evacuations have been put in place out of an abundance of caution — rockslides and debris flows are a distinct possibility. Per our friends at VCEmergency, the affected areas are as follows:
Areas under mandatory evacuations:
- South Coast of Ventura County/Community of Malibu
- Matilija / Wheeler Springs / North fork (extending along Oso Road)
Areas under voluntary evacuation:
- Bell Canyon (entire community)
- Oak Park (specific homes adjacent to the hillsides)
- Residences east of Hwy 33 / Casitas Springs (Vista Burn area)
- Ventura City – The voluntary evacuations were lifted at midnight on 1/15/19 and will be reinstated effective today at 5:00 pm.
- La Conchita
- East Ojai
Additionally, the areas of Camarillo Springs, Nye Road, and West of Hwy 33 (Sycamore Drive at Edison Drive) are under advisory warnings. Residents in these areas should monitor conditions closely, and be ready to evacuate immediate should conditions worsen.
For those who’ve been forced to leave their homes during the storms, they can find refuge at the Calabasas/Agoura Community Center, where an evacuation shelter has been established.
A map of the affected areas can be found at www.vcemergency.com.
The National Weather Service has also issued a flood warning. Drainage can be an issue in some areas, so motorists should be cautious. Never drive through a flooded area, even if you think you can pass safely. Heavy rain on top of drought-stricken soil is a recipe for sinkholes. Motorists should remain vigilant, and take care if they must go out on the roads. Areas that might see flooding, according to the NWS, include Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Ventura, Camarillo, Fillmore, Malibu, Ojai, Encino, Inglewood, Manhattan Beach, Agoura Hills, Venice, Rancho Palos Verdes, Hollywood, Van Nuys, Culver City, Torrance, Universal City, and the Hill, Woolsey, South and Stone burn areas.
Surfers and swimmers should take heed as well. Though the heavy surf caused by storms can be a big draw— waves of up to 8 feet have been predicted — it comes with an increased risk of rip currents and drowning. These large waves can capsize small boats or wash people off beaches or rocks. Nice as it might be to take a selfie with a large wave crashing behind you, the Instagram likes aren’t worth your life.
Rains are expected to continue through Thursday, with more likely to follow in the coming weeks as the wet season fully takes hold.
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Ventura County Emergency Information.” VCEmergency. Retrieved 16 January 2019. https://www.vcemergency.com/
“Storm Batters Agoura Hills, Brings Warnings Of Possible Flooding.” Patch Media. Retrieved 16 January 2019. https://patch.com/california/agourahills/storm-batters-agoura-hills-brings-warnings-possible-flooding
“Current Rainfall Map Interface.” Ventura County Watershed. Retrieved 16 January 2019. https://www.vcwatershed.net/fws/gmap.html
“RSG Flood Preparation.” Ventura County Fire Department. Retrieved 16 January 2019. http://vcfd.org/ready-set-go/27-public-information/312-flood-preparation