Ventura County community evacuated by air after only access road washed out by storm

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Remote SoCal mountain community evacuated after only road washes out
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Dozens of residents of a remote mountain community in Ventura County have been forced to evacuate their homes because the recent storms washed out the only road in and out of town.

MATILIJA CANYON, Calif. (KABC) -- Dozens of residents of a remote mountain community in Ventura County have been forced to evacuate their homes because the recent storms washed out the only road in and out of town.

Rescuers had to airlift some 70 residents after the rains isolated Matilija Canyon from the rest of the world.

And it could be months before repairs are made to let them return.

The community is located a few miles north of Ojai in the Los Padres National Forest.

There is just one road in and out of town and after roughly 17 inches of rain fell in the area, a large chunk of Highway 33 collapsed and washed out.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office made at least 10 helicopter flights to help residents evacuate. Some chose to stay behind, despite warnings.

Officials say repairs could took months.

"I don't see the access situation changing in the immediate future," said Patrick Maynard with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. "At a minimum I would say a couple of weeks to maybe secure some kind of temporary access - and then many, many months for actual repairs to occur."

Authorities have provided housing and meals to some of the displaced residents, while others chose to stay with family and friends.