La Conchita

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La Conchita, California Landslide Disaster Photo & Story



On January 10, 2005, La Conchita, California experienced a landslide and debris flow, the second in less than ten years (the first was in the spring of 1995.) 10 people were killed in this tragic event and homes lost in the 156-home community. Suffering the loss of their family members were Jimmie Wallets and his daughter Jasmine.

The landslide occurred on a less than normal day. There were rains the night before and a tornado watch in the morning. Highway 101 was closed, and residents were unable to leave La Conchita, though they could walk across the highway to the beach. They planned a barbecue that day and some like Jimmie Wallets and his family planned to go treasure-hunting on the beach -- looking for arrowheads that might have washed ashore. Jimmy left home for a few minutes to buy ice cream treats for the kids at the corner store. He wanted to give the kids a treat while he and Michelle packed belongings in case they decided to leave.

The market was closed, and as Jimmie talked with neighbors about what they would barbecue, the hills came crashing down. Mud flowed from the hill above onto houses, trailers and cars. The mud hit a retaining wall, formed a "y" and rolled straight for Wallet's house.

He ran toward the home approximately 60 feet away and the flow stopped just yards in front of him. He did not know it at the time, but mud pushed his home across the street. A tree fell, hit his house and split the structure in two. Jimmie ran to the spot where his house stood just seconds before. Instead, there was a 30-foot pile of mud. Nothing but mud.

La Conchita was once a thriving residential town on the east side of Highway 101 across from La Conchita-Seacliff Beach and Mussel Shoals.  Located  north of Ventura with its nearest city, Carpinteria just a five or ten minute drive away (to the north), the hamlet consists of several streets and a gas station/ general store. A railroad track separates residents from the highway and aside from the regularly scheduled views of passing trains, they enjoy the blue Pacific out the windows and doors of their homes.

Landslide in 1995:  Many people were evacuated because of the slide and the houses nearest the slide were completely destroyed. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured.