100 homes destroyed, 300 damaged in Santa Barbara County flash-floods

Yolanda Curtis
January 13, 2018

At least 50 people stranded on rooftops had already been rescued Tuesday, including a Montecito family of five with a newborn and two young children, who were plucked from a rooftop by a Coast Guard helicopter, KCAL TV reported.

Mudslides particularly affected wealthy areas such as Montecito and Santa Barbara, where many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, have homes.

With heavy rain forecast, authorities had ordered evacuations beneath the burned areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, but only 10 to 15 percent of residents heeded the orders, according to the Santa Barbara police department.

Parts of the major north-south highway Route 101 were closed in both directions and not expected to reopen until next week. Over the past month, California's scenic coastline had been ravaged by a series of intense wildfires that burned off vegetation.

The mudslide toppled trees and demolished cars and covered blocks of quiet residential neighbourhoods with a thick layer of mud, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference.

"There are still 13 reported missing persons cases", Sheriff Brown said. He said those who perished range in age from three to 89 years old.

"Rescue crews have managed to clear the roadways to free the 300 residence that have been trapped since Tuesday in Romero Canyon", Eliason added.

The number of missing after a California mudslide has fluctuated wildly, due to shifting definitions, the inherent uncertainty that follows a natural disaster, and just plain human error.

"There are four juveniles on the list", he said.

While the town is best known as a getaway for the rich and famous - the median home price among current listings is more than $4 million - there are also working families living in modest houses and apartments.

We started looking around and that is when we saw parts of roofs, and there was a body against our next door neighbour's vehicle. Sadly, more than a dozen people have tragically lost their lives.

This comes after a record-setting year of $306 billion of weather and climate-related disaster costs in the United States, its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

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