Road closures in Santa Paula and Malibu Canyon continue after massive mudslides

Friday, February 23, 2024
Road closures in Santa Paula and Malibu Canyon ongoing after mudslides
Massive mudslides in Malibu Canyon and Santa Paula led to road and highway closures that were ongoing days later.

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (KABC) -- Massive mudslides that occurred amid stormy conditions in Malibu Canyon and Santa Paula earlier this week led to road and highway closures that were ongoing on Thursday.

In the city of Malibu, a landslide earlier this week forced the shutdown of several lanes on Pacific Coast Highway.

The incident caused catastrophic damage at Bulates Malibu Pilates, a small business located along PCH, just east of Zuma Beach. The owner has operated the Pilates studio for about five years, according to a GoFundMe page that was created to help pay for the damage.

"The slide inundated the studio with about 18 inches of mud, potentially destroying her 5 Reformers, 3 Gyrotonic machines, and all her foam rollers, mats, sales inventory, furniture, rugs," according to a statement.

A massive mudslide completely blocked Highway 150 in Santa Paula, resulting in a closure that officials said could last for several weeks weeks.

Meanwhile, farther north, a landslide left Malibu Canyon Road completely blocked. That closure remained in place on Friday afternoon. "Water & mud still coming down hillside so roadway is not safe to use," the California Highway Patrol said in a statement on social media.

In Santa Paula, residents and commuters will have to find alternative routes after a mudslide blocked both lanes of Highway 150, prompting a shutdown that officials say could last for several weeks.

"It's way bigger than it seems," says Carole Butler a nearby resident. "I've seen where people fly over it and it's so wide and so tall it's going to take a long time to get all that mud. And it's still shifting!"

"I was up here Tuesday walking the dog and that's when the first slide was here. It only covered one lane," said Rob Hansen, another nearby resident. "And it was probably 60 ft. long. And then either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning the second slide, which is what you have here now, came down."

Caltrans tells us on average about 3,250 total vehicles use this highway daily, and now travelers are having to take a long detour to get to the other side of the mound.

"A lot of people love just up there at the park and they need to come this way and now they have to go all the way around through Ojai and Ventura so it adds an hour to their drive," Butler said.

Residents went without power for sometime after the hillside knocked over a pole, but crews worked to get power restored to most of the area. Caltrans says they tried to start moving mud, but that only caused more of the hill to slide. They say now they have to wait for the mound to dry before they attempt to move the dirt out.

"I think they're working it from the other side and maybe they'll start working it from this side after Edison finishes," said Tom Fillingame, another Santa Paula resident. "So, at least they got our power back on yesterday."

"It's going to take a lot of time," said Bob Rabii, a contractor working to clear the road. "We still trying to figure out how long it's going to take. But we should have some idea by next week. Maybe."

Caltrans says they haven't begun to assess damages yet, but when they do It'll include damage to the road, the signs, and the drains, but thankfully, no injuries have been reported.