First Responders Search For Survivors After Deadly California Mudslides

Mud fills the interior of a car destroyed in a rain-driven mudslide in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank

Many in Montecito ignored mudslide warnings — until it was too late

Slowly but surely the floodwaters on the 101 Freeway began to recede.

Firefighters and utility crews have been working with chain saws and jackhammers, while heavy machinery was used to scoop up mud and rocks around buckled and flattened homes. "It's like we're on an island".

"We then didn't decide to put the basket down in the mud just because we didn't know what was underneath the mud".

Rescue efforts are ongoing in Santa Barbara County in California, with search teams looking for people who were caught by massive mudslides that swamped houses and trapped cars on Tuesday. Overall, 28 people were injured.

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On the fourth day of the treacherous search for victims of mudslides in Southern California, emergency workers found the body of an 87-year-old man in his house, authorities said. "We've lost so many lives and it's a tiny community and nobody would've expected, certainly, I did not, that after we survived the fire and the rain came, who would've expected we have this devastation again with the mudslides, and so soon".

The water and powerful debris flows destroyed about 100 homes and damaged 300 others in the Montecito community, known for its multimillion-dollar properties.

"They can search everything from a building collapse to a canyon to a mudslide", said Brent Brainard, canine handler. "Today, I need you because there's a lot going on in my life right now". Neighborhoods were wiped out and roads strewn with massive boulders and trees.

My lovely home town, just after getting through weeks of wild fire, has been hit by a major storm. The affected area was located west of Sheffield Drive, East Valley Road and Lader Lane; east of Olive Mill and Hot Springs Road, north of the ocean and south of U.S. Forest Service boundary. Residents in some areas were subject to a new mandatory evacuation, emergency officials said, as the unstable environment remained a threat.

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"It's not just a wealthy community", DeGeneres said. The first slides ripped through Montecito about 3:30 a.m. and continued after the county cellphone alerts went out. Only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of residents fled their homes when ordered, and much of the damage occurred where evacuation orders were voluntary.

Karson, reporting for NPR from Pasadena, Calif., said the mudflows above Montecito were so powerful they ripped some homes off their foundations. "They weren't concerned", Weimer said.

Drones, military vehicles and search dogs have been brought in to help with rescue and clean-up efforts. The death toll from the wave of mud and debris that struck Montecito early Tuesday morning stands at 17. "I don't know how I got lulled". For workers trying to get the freeway reopened, the thought of victims buried in the muck casts a grim tone to an already dirty and hard task.

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