A new Aon Benfield report indicated that insurance companies are bracing for sizeable claims from the devastation.
Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting unit released a report predicting that the California mudslide brought on by heavy rains following massive wildfires in the region will generate widespread losses. Overall, the report predicts an economic loss above $100 million. That said, the insured losses will be within the tens of millions.
The areas hardest hit by the mudslides are the cities of Carpinteria and Montecito.
Parts of areas surrounding those cities had already been burned away by the massive wildfires that struck the state in recent weeks and months. With the local vegetation burned away, the plants were no longer present to hold the ground in place when the rains arrived. Moreover, these cities were extremely dry, not having experienced any measurable rainfall since October 2017. This combination left the area wide open to the California mudslide that flowed and oozed over and through local buildings, highways and other habited areas.
The terrifying scene left several people dead and a number missing as rescue workers fought time to locate the missing individuals and bring them to safety.
The California mudslide occurred following a strong Pacific storm system that arrived on January 8 and 9.
“The excessive rainfall led to major mudslides, including in Montecito, CA and Carpinteria, CA, as victims described a “wall of water” rushing down hillsides. The rainfall – which led to some of the highest calendar-day rainfall totals since 2014 around San Francisco – was too much for very dry soils to absorb. Additionally, given that the typical chaparral cover was burned away, this meant there was very little, if any, vegetation available to absorb the moisture,” said Impact Forecasting.
The area received as much as almost 10 inches of rainfall. The mudslides and debris flows killed at least 18 people, with 7 people still unaccounted for at the time this article was written.
State officials say the California mudslide and debris flows have destroyed at least 65 residential properties in Santa Barbara County and damaged another 446. At least eight commercial properties have been destroyed as well.