15 dead in California mudslides; crews search for missing, stranded

The 2017 Thomas fire that burned in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties left behind vast swaths of charred landscape like this area in Upper Rincon Canyon

15 dead in California mudslides; crews search for missing, stranded

(Santa Barbara County Fire Department via Reuters) The Montecito Inn sits in flooded waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito.

The mudslides have caused a number of roads to be closed, including the major Highway 101, making much of the affected areas inaccessible to the rescue workers. Almost 100 homes were destroyed and 300 others were damaged.

A family of five have been rescued from their home following devastating mudslides in California. They say about two dozen people are still unaccounted for and at least 25 were injured.

Search efforts continued Wednesday morning where a massive wall of debris destroyed several homes and buried the area in mud.

"Right now our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. The authorities on Tuesday ordered evacuation and recommended that the residents move to high areas.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson said: "The water was moving at 15 miles an hour, taking everything in its wake, dropping boulders and debris, clogging culverts, knocking out pipes,".

In Santa Barbara County, a total of 100 homes were destroyed and 300 homes damaged by the mudslides, Eliason said, adding that eight commercial properties were also destroyed and 20 damaged.

DeGeneres said on her talk show on Thursday that the picturesque town of 9,000 is a "tight-knit" community. Homes were swept from their foundations as heavy rain sent mud and boulders sliding down hills stripped of vegetation by a huge wildfire that raged in Southern California last month.

The death toll wrought by storms and flooding in southern California continues to rise, with officials reporting late Wednesday that they'd found the bodies of two more mudslide victims.

Thomas Tighe said he stepped outside his Montecito home in the middle of the night after hearing the "deep rumblling" sound of boulders moving as mud levels rose.

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