MONTECITO, Calif. (FOX 26) - On New Year's Day 2018, Grant Denham and his family moved from the California community of Bel Air to Montecito. Just imagine, days after moving into their new home, still adjusting, and here comes the rain and those devastating mudslides. But before the mud, for this man and his family with roots in Houston, were the wildfires.
"Yeah, we looked out our back window on our balcony and there's just flames everywhere," described Denham. For his family, the wildfires signaled an end to their life in Bel Air, forcing them to move to Montecito.
"We came at the worst time here, unfortunately," said Denham. "When the mud comes with the water, with the debris, at such massive speed and force, you can get stuck in it, you can't move."
The Denham family and the family's home, fortunately, was spared from the avalanche of mud.
"Neighbors who have been in the area for 30 years, never seen anything like this," added Denham. "I mean they've had fires in their backyard, they've had some rain and some minor flooding, but nothing to this extent."
And while the Denham family survived, others did not.
"God rest his soul," said Denham. "There was a dead body at the end of our street. It's carnage. It's unbelievable."
Electricity and cell phone service gone as the loose soil displaced by the torrential rains settled where it was not welcome.
"We've basically been trapped, said Denham. "It's like an island here. You can't get out. I hear you can get out on the 101 South heading towards LA. You're not getting back in." He also said his Montecito neighborhood was under a voluntary evacuation and had it not been for Highway 101 to his east, that mud may have reached his home.
"Just east of it, I mean people's whole neighborhoods ended up in one person's yard and they rushed to the attic to escape it," said Denham.
The Denham family does have food and water at home. Grant has spoken with neighbors who know of families that have lost loved ones to the mudslides. He also said he and his neighbors are being told to stay put until more of the mud is cleaned up.