Rescues start as mud threatens California areas

Elias Hubbard
January 10, 2018

In Montecito, a wealthy area near Santa Barbara, mudslides cut a gas line, sparking a fire that spread to multiple homes.

Heavy rain was falling in areas charred by recent wildfires, triggering warnings of flash flooding and mudslides because vegetation that otherwise would hold hills together and make the terrain flood-resistant have burned away.

Santa Barbara County officials estimate that just 10 to 15 percent of residents ordered to evacuate heeded the warning ahead of a risky storm that has killed five people.

She added, "I think the county did what it could issuing evacuation orders yesterday".

KEYT-TV showed a body being loaded into a military-style truck on a mud-covered street.

The girl's house was just one of several destroyed in the coastal community of Montecito, home to many of Santa Barbara County's most affluent residents.

Crews are clearing debris that closed a section of US 101 along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. A stew of water, garbage and tree limbs flooded one part of United States 101 between Montecito and Carpinteria, according to images from CNN affiliate KERO.

Eliason said the extent of the damage has yet to be surveyed, and crews are working to clear roads.

He says some of those rescued were buried in mud and debris.

Five victims have been killed as massive mudflows brought on by heavy rainfall paralyzed major transit routes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday.

Downtown San Francisco had a record 3.15 inches of rain, smashing the old mark of 2.36 inches set in 1872 and making it the city's 16th wettest day since 1849, the National Weather Service said.

"There have been numerous reports of missing persons", Mona Miyasato, county chief executive officer, said during a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning, which was cut short because of the devastation. Helicopters were being used even during the downpours because of blocked roads.

The Santa Barabara Sherriff's Office confirmed the deaths to Anadolu Agency but did not have additional information immediately available.

Thousands are without power in and around Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles.

The first significant storm of the season has soaked much of the state.

Water and debris in lanes shut down coastal USA 101 and traffic accidents on rain-slicked roadways across the region slowed the Tuesday morning commute to a crawl.

Forecasters issued flash flood warnings and predicted that the cold front with powerful winds could bring higher rain totals to downtown Los Angeles than seen in the past 10 months.

A winter weather advisory is in place for mountain areas, where officials warned motorists to prepare for hard travel conditions, including gusty winds, low visibility and snow-covered roads.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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