Video Shows Mudslide in California Swallowing Homes and Businesses as People Run in Panic
"The mud came up and over the roof, and when it came over the roof, it pushed through."
Heavy rains have caused major damage in Southern California this week in the form of mudslides, as flash floods pushed soil, rocks, and trees down mountains, through streets and into homes and businesses. The owners of one restaurant found their kitchen buried in waist-deep mud on Tuesday, and the scary beginning of that destructive slide was caught on video, almost sweeping away the man behind the camera. Read on to watch the massive mudflow, and to find out what caused it.
In the video, shot on Monday, a slow-moving river of mud flows by the sign for the Oak Glen Steakhouse and Saloon. Seconds later, a bigger wave of dirt and debris sweeps by and begins rolling toward the camera. The man who shot the footage, Roger Seheult, told ABC Los Angeles he was on the way to pick up his daughters from school when he encountered the mudslide. "The next thing I know, it's wave after wave after wave of mud, debris, coming down from this flash flood," he said. Keep reading to learn more and see the video.
Much of the restaurant's interior is covered in feet of mud—it's waist-deep in the kitchen—and a huge tree now occupies part of the dining room. "The damage is pretty bad," said owner Brandon Gallegos. "We have trees in there … 30 feet long that came straight through our building. It's crushing." "We're devastated on the inside," Gallegos' sister, Karen Pierce, told KTLA. "The mud came up and over the roof, and when it came over the roof, it pushed through." She said that it was a miracle that nobody was inside when the mud came pouring in.
Southern California has been hit with heavy rains from Tropical Storm Kay, which was downgraded from a hurricane before it passed offshore. With more thunderstorms forecast and mudslides possible on Wednesday, mandatory evacuation orders were given for parts of the San Bernardino Mountains. "It's part of life. It's part of living in the mountain," local resident Eugene Gerber told NBC Los Angeles: "If you want to live in paradise, there's always some kind of consequence. For us, it's floods, fires [and] heavy snow."
The mudslides and flash flooding occurred in areas of the mountains where there are burn scars—places where vegetation has been stripped—from wildfires in 2020. "All of that dirt turns to mud and starts slipping down the mountain," said Eric Sherwin, spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Fire Department. "The mud and debris flow came down through the high steep terrain," Jim Topeleski, a San Bernardino County fire chief, told the Washington Post. "This entire area is blanketed with up to six feet of mud, debris, large boulders."
In areas east of Los Angeles, crews searched for people who might be trapped by mudflows. Videos showed yards and homes swamped with mud and damaged by rocks, trees and debris that came tumbling through. "We have boulders that moved through that weigh multiple tons," said Sherwin. "It could take days just to find all the cars that are missing because they are completely covered by mud." Scientists say that climate change has made California warmer and drier over the last three decades, and extreme weather and wildfires will continue to be more likely. In the last five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive wildfires in its history, the Post reported.