Flash Flooding, Mudslides Threaten SoCal Mountain Communities

Search and rescue efforts continue as cars remain buried and a Forest Falls woman and her dog have gone missing

After enduring a record-setting heatwave, Southern California now faces the remnants of Tropical Storm Kay. With its accompanying rainfall, the storm has led to flash flooding and a mudslide in San Bernardino Mountain communities. The damage left by the mudslide has led to evacuation orders and an all-hands-on-deck search and rescue effort to unearth buried cars and locate at least one missing woman and her dog.

Forest Falls, Oak Glen, and Yucaipa have been particularly hard hit, according to San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Eric Sherwin, who told The Guardian, “It could take days just to find all the cars that are missing because they are completely covered by mud.”

Beyond this, clearing the roadways and repairing infrastructure will be an ongoing process. Already, rescue workers are moving boulders weighing multiple tons and traversing uprooted trees, buried buildings, and a river of thick mud. 

Although no injuries or deaths have been reported, rescuers are sweeping the area street by street and are currently searching for a missing woman and her dog in Forest Falls, the Los Angeles Times reports. There are more than 120 firefighters from the SBFD assisting in the search, as well as specialized urban search and rescue teams.

2020 wildfires have left the affected region with scorched earth known as “burn scars,” predisposing it to mudslides given the lack of vegetation to hold the soil in place. And while officials lifted some mandatory evacuation orders on Monday, with thunderstorms in the forecast, more mudslides are possible.

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