In San Bernardino mountains, residents hit by devastating mudslide fear more to come
Aerial photographs of the slide that left thousands of people homeless and dead, in the San Bernardino Mountains. The slide killed at least 14 people, several of whom were children, and left thousands more homeless. | Photo courtesy of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department
HELENA — One of the toughest days to face in an already devastating couple of months has been Thursday, when a massive mudslide that has killed a dozen people and left dozens of others homeless began its descent into rugged San Bernardino Mountains.
The day started well enough. At 6:30 a.m., the Associated Press flew into the San Bernardino National Forest and, on the ground, saw people preparing a firebreak along the east-west Highway 138 corridor, which runs through the mountains, as the storm began to pick up water and momentum.
At 7:30 a.m., the AP flew over the San Bernardino town of Redlands, where the Associated Press was stationed, and saw rescuers taking stock of the town’s damage, making calls to family members and getting to work rebuilding homes.
There also were reports of traffic accidents on the road and evacuations at schools around town.
By 10:30 a.m., the AP saw dozens of cars lined up at a Redlands gas station, with customers anxious to get to work because of the mudslide. Some customers were trying to help their neighbors, who were being evacuated from their homes.
By 12:30 p.m., the AP flew over the town of Alpine and saw the devastation left behind by the mudslide, which had sent more than 100,000 cubic yards of mud, rocks and debris down the steep mountainside.
“The slide is actually beginning to move, by a few miles an hour,” said Robert Cianciolo, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department. “The slide will continue to move for hours, possibly days, as some of the debris is being picked up by winds. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put those rocks and debris to rest.”
The mudslide’s damage has been so extensive that the National Weather Service has declared the slide a Level 4 event, which means it’s too dangerous for people to travel by foot or bike.
The mudslide started Thursday