California: After the Fires – Rain and Mud

U.S. Army Sgt. Brad Chambers of the California Army National Guard, from Chico, California, conducts search and debris clearing operations, Nov. 17, 2018, Paradise, California. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army National Guard)


SACRAMENTO, California, November 30, 2018 (ENS) – After scorching 153,336 acres in California north of Sacramento, the Camp Fire is now 100 percent contained, but not before it claimed 85 lives and injured three firefighters. Several hundred people are still considered missing.

Further south, near Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire is now also 100 percent contained, but not before it burned over 96,949 acres, claimed three lives and injured three more firefighters.

The Woolsey Fire blazed across Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, West Hills, Simi Valley, Chatsworth, Bell Canyon, Hidden Hills, Malibu and Calabasas.

Los Angeles County is starting on the road to recovery from the worst wildfire in its modern history.

The upscale beach town of Malibu was evacuated, but people are slowly being allowed back onto their properties. Currently 700 residents remain affected in Malibu and the surrounding area.

U.S. Army Sgt. Brad Chambers of the California Army National Guard, from Chico, California, conducts search and debris clearing operations, Nov. 17, 2018, Paradise, California. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army National Guard)

These, the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California’s history, have displaced thousands of people, some of whom experienced heavy rains on Thursday.

A big storm set off mudslides and flooded streets in the burned-over areas, which escaped major damage.

Water from flash floods receded in Northern California, and crews today cleared debris from flooded areas of Chico, near Paradise, Butte County spokeswoman Kelly Hubbard told the Associated Press.

The downpour Thursday released 1.5 inches of rain in an hour, according to the National Weather Service.

The heavy rain trapped people in some 100 vehicles and forced mandatory evacuations in Chico, a city of 90,000 where many of the fire evacuees from Paradise have taken refuge.

All roads that were closed during the rain emergency were re-opened by Friday.

The weather forecast for December 5 calls for more rain.

Coastal health authorities are urging people to stay away from beach water, which may contain bacteria, chemicals, debris, trash and other public health hazards due to runoff.

California fire officials are warning residents and business owners in recent burn areas to take steps to protect their homes and property from the risk of flooding, which can rise after wildfires. They have issued a resource guide that includes information on how to schedule a free consultation with public Works engineers, obtain sandbags and monitor the latest weather conditions.

According to Abby Browning, who heads the Office of Private Sector/NGO coordination, in the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, at least 2,000 businesses were affected by the Camp Fire.

The town of Paradise, home to 27,000 residents is 90 percent gone. Utilities, hospitals and schools were damaged, and kids are still out of school. At least 13,696 single family homes were destroyed, with 276 multiple family residences also destroyed, and 528 commercial establishments gone.

Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter drops water on a wildfire in Griffith Park near the Los Angeles Zoo, Nov. 8, 2018 (Photo by Scott L.)

In Malibu, Barbara Bruderlin, CEO, Malibu Chamber of Commerce, told reporters on a conference call Wednesday, “Malibu is perceived as an upscale neighborhood, but in reality it’s a country town of 12,000 people.

“We do have movie stars, but we also have many earthy people who have been there for generations. So many people lost their homes who dedicate their lives to helping others.”

“The Santa Monica mountains are steep and treacherous. I found myself, when the fire started, staying up all night helping people stranded up in the mountains, and on the coast. The Tunnels caught fire, so the Fire Department couldn’t come. We lost a good portion on the homes near there.”

“We do not have a lot of businesses that will be lost. People who lost their homes are the business people, the workers,” said Bruderlin.

“We need help to incentivize how to get people shopping in Malibu again. Our internet just got up yesterday. Phone service is still out, and there are power outages everywhere,” Bruderlin said.

John Kobara, chief operating officer of the California Community Foundation, told reporters on the call that donations are arriving from all over the world. “We are waiving all fees related to donating,” he said.

Kelsey Torres, interim president and CEO of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, said, “People have been calling in with all kinds of donations. We’re at the point where we don’t need any more, thanks, monetary donations are the best.”

Browning says California for the first time is creating a database for all donation offers so that the right resources can be given at the right time to the different affected communities.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2018. All rights reserved.


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