This is my first editorial letter as managing editor of Storm Water Solutions, and it isn’t about me. When I wrote about the wildfires sweeping Southern California on page 10, little did I know, my warnings of erosion quickly would become reality. The region was inundated with heavy rain, which caused flooding and mudslides. As I write, the death toll is rising, and a number of people are injured or missing. Search-and-rescue teams and area residents are enduring the horror of sifting through mud to uncover the bodies of their friends and family members.
Associated Press reported that once the rain began, flash floods sounded like a freight train. Floodwaters carried debris, boulders and vegetation down the hillsides, demolishing homes or filling them with waist-high mud, and blocking rail and roadways. Some counties, like Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles, issued mandatory evacuation orders in low-lying areas and voluntary evacuation orders in less-threatened areas. Despite these warnings, many residents chose to remain in their homes, in some cases leading to their deaths.
Teams are still working their way across the region, helping survivors and cleaning the wreckage. This is a dangerous job. The mud is deceiving; it disguises what it covers, often causing rescuers to fall into manholes and swimming pools, CBS News reported.
Southern California has been of interest to the storm water and erosion control industries for years. The region has dealt with drought and raging wildfires before contending with this disaster. If you’re in Long Beach, Calif., this month—just south of the affected counties—at the International Erosion Control Assn. Annual Conference & Expo, consider what measures could have been taken to prevent the damaging erosion, and share them with me. Drop by booth #549, or send me an email. Introduce me to the faces of the storm water and erosion control industries while we thank the professionals working to mitigate the damage and pay respect to the lives lost.