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17 Dead in California Mudslides


17 Dead in California Mudslides

17 Dead in California Mudslides

After the horrific and historical fires in California, some of the same area is now hit with devastating mudslides.

At least eight people are missing on Jan. 11 after mudslides and boulders destroyed homes in Santa Barbara County, reports CNN. At least 17 people have been reported dead in the natural disaster.

“This is going to be a long and difficult journey for all of us,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, according to NBC News.

Floodwaters and mudslides have destroyed 65 homes in the county and damaged 462 others, according to spokeswoman Susan Klien-Rothschild. Twenty commercial buildings were also damaged, and eight were destroyed.

“Right now, our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged,” Brown said.

Debris from the mudslides has also caused parts of major thoroughfare U.S. 101 to be shut down. The closed sections of freeway are not expected to reopen until Jan. 14.

Authorities had reportedly warned residents to evacuate, but fewer than a fifth of those ordered to evacuate before the floods did so.

Residents in the area have been advised to boil water before drinking it because of damage to the water supply infrastructure, reports NPR. Power outages have also affected more than 6,000 homes and businesses mainly in the Montecito area.

Search crews have done a primary search of 75 percent of the debris for survivors so far as of Jan. 10, with over 500 first responders and 10 dogs searching the area.

“We still have to have hope and believe that people can be found,” said Curt Pickering, who lives in Montecito. “There’s dogs everywhere searching, but I truly believe we are going to find more people alive.”

 In one story from the mudslides, a man rescued a baby from the debris, saving her life by pulling her out of the mud, according to Time.

Montecito resident Berkeley Johnson described hearing the faint sound of a baby crying in the dark as he was on his way to check on his neighbor. Johnson alerted nearby firefighters and they were able to dig the infant from the muck.

We dug down and found a little baby,” an emotional Johnson recalled. “We don’t know where it came from, but we got it out, got the mud out of its mouth.”

Johnson said that the baby girl, whose age is unclear, was tangled in roots and buried four feet deep.

“The girl’s OK,” said Johnson. “It’s unbelievable. There’s no way that we should have found that child, and probably 15 more minutes, it wouldn’t have been alive because it was cold and it had been there for a while.”

Helicopters and rescue workers from the U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard, as well as firefighters and helicopters from fire departments in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties have all descended on Montecito.

As one source stated, “A majority of Montecito and that whole area is in the Stone Age right now. There is no water. There is no gas. There is no electricity.”

The storm system that hit Southern California beginning Monday dumped more than 5 inches of rain on some parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and officials had been concerned that sections of the state damaged by last month’s wildfires would be susceptible to heavy mudflows. Soil scorched by fire is less able to absorb water.

The section of Montecito that was hit hardest was actually south of the Thomas fire’s burn scar, and not subject to mandatory evacuation.

It’s heartbreaking to see what’s going on in California now with these mudslides, after one of the largest fires in California history.

Lives have been destroyed. Family members lost. Homes destroyed. It’s just devastating. Prayers to all those in the Montecito area and all those affected by the mudslides.


 Resources: Opposing Views, LA Times, Daily Mail


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