Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

8 people still missing after mudslides kill 17 in Southern California

Helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard Santa Barbara and Ventura counties operate out of a helibase at the Santa Barbara Airport to help rescue Montecito-area residents Tuesday WATCH: Video Shows Teen Being Rescued by Firefighters From California Mudslide
Laurie Berry | 13 January, 2018, 12:04

Eight people remain unaccounted for, authorities said.

Dozens of stranded residents have been rescued by helicopter in areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties - some from their vehicles and others from rooftops.

Another 28 injuries have been reported in Santa Barbara County following the deluge that overwhelmed an area scorched by wildfires last month.

Santa Barbara County initially ordered 7,000 residents to evacuate and urged 23,000 to do so voluntarily, but only 10 to 15 percent complied, County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said Wednesday.

Anxious family members awaited word on loved ones Wednesday as rescue crews searched for more than a dozen people missing after mudslides in Southern California destroyed an estimated 100 houses, swept away cars and left at least 17 victims dead.

Among the damaged properties were historic hotels and the homes of celebrities, including media mogul and actress Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and actor Jeff Bridges, who all live in Montecito, an upscale hillside community.

"The house in the back is gone", she said.

"Our hearts break for the communities first ravaged by fires and now devastated by these mudslides", Brown said in a statement.

There were mixed reports about how many were still missing, with the number jumping from 17 to 48, according to Associated Press.

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Hundreds of firefighters and others sifted through mud and debris in Montecito, a town 145 kilometers (90 miles) northwest of Los Angeles, after powerful rainstorms triggered a mudslide on Tuesday.

The slide also caused a "significant" gas leak, and fix efforts left homes on the street with no gas, electricity or water.

Television mogul Oprah Winfrey's home survived the rainstorm and ensuring mudslides.

DeGeneres took to Twitter to ask for support for her community. She was pulled from a collapsed Montecito home where she had been trapped for hours.

A major north-south highway along the coast, US Route 101, was closed in both directions and not expected to reopen until next week.

"I was walking down here and all of my neighbors' homes are gutted", Winfrey said.

Pontes said there was a water main break Tuesday at Olive Mill Road that flooded the freeway and water and debris is still coming down onto 101. "I hope that's OK", he said. Nearly the entire community - about 10,000 people - is now under mandatory evacuation orders, which could last "one to two weeks", according to the Santa Barbara County fire chief.

One such resident, Marco Farrell, 45, called the slide more frightening than the "biggest, scariest, horrifying monster you've ever dreamed of".

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