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A deadly combination of factors raised mudslides' toll

Joseph Serna, Hailey Branson-Potts, Ruben Vives and Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

The town has "an extensive history" of wildfires and threats of post-fire floods, and emergency responders often issue evacuation orders in the area, the report says.

"Some residents believe a secondary evacuation order will be issued prior to conditions becoming truly life threatening," the report says.

In the wake of mudslides, some question why the mandatory evacuation zone -- and the door-to-door visits -- were not more widespread.

Gower's family isn't sure why her house on East Valley Road was not under a mandatory evacuation order.

"She lived next to a creek," Haigh, her son-in-law, said. "You'd think they would make those people evacuate no matter what. It must be hard for them to predict what's going to happen, but it does seem like there's been a huge mistake."

Jen Guilbeault said she decided to stay in her home on Ortega Ridge Road because it, too, was in a voluntary evacuation zone.

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"Mandatory means get out, while voluntary means, if you feel unsafe, leave," she said. "I think people were just exhausted from the warnings. I think they didn't take it seriously and had no idea the intensity of the storm."

(Staff writers Sarah Parvini and Andrea Castillo in Los Angeles and Brittny Mejia in Montecito contributed to this report.)

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