As Storm Season Approaches, Officials Urge Californians to Prepare for Mudslides, Other Disasters

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Loreen Zakem walks her dog past one of the homes destroyed in a January debris flow along Montecito Creek in this undated photo. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Loreen Zakem walks her dog past one of the homes destroyed in a January debris flow along Montecito Creek in this undated photo. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

On the coastal highway leading into Santa Barbara, the signs of last year’s Thomas fire are starting to disappear: Scorched hillsides are no longer covered in black ash, and the palm trees that ignited like torches are sprouting new fronds.

Yet reminders of the mudslide that roared through Montecito a month later and killed at least 21 people are far more visible. The foothills that turned into rivers of mud and rock during a January storm remain brown, with only small patches of dried vegetation. Fallen trees still lie across shattered homes, and bulldozers busily scrape debris into ordered piles.

Although many city residents insist they will never see such flood devastation again in their lifetimes, state and federal officials warned Wednesday that they could be proven dead wrong. Throughout the state, a series of record-setting wildfires have left hillsides and valleys stripped of vegetation and susceptible to collapse in heavy rains.

Now, as the wet season quickly approaches, they urged Californians to prepare for disaster and to heed government evacuation warnings.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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