After wildfires, California is facing heavy rains and mudslides

After wildfires, California is facing heavy rains and mudslides

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the death toll in the mudslides had reached 15, as first responders worked frantically to rescue those still trapped. A Santa Barbara County fire official, who declined to provide his name, called what he say a scene out of a disaster movie.

"First we got burned out at our ranch that caught on fire and now we're flooding, so the last month has been pretty bad", said Charles Stoops, as he stood in front of his house, which was surrounded in mud 3 feet deep, or almost a meter. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via Reuters) The Montecito Inn sits in flooded waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito.

At least three homes in Santa Barbara County have been completely destroyed, the county's fire department spokesperson Mike Eliason told HuffPost, and local reporters said at least two people had been killed.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said authorities expect the number of dead to increase.

"Obviously the focus is to get to people who may be get as many of those people evacuated from their homes as possible", he said. "As of Wednesday night, officials say the almost 500 people involved in search efforts had gone through about 75 percent of the 50-plus homes destroyed, and almost 450 damaged in their hunt for more survivors".

"Had we still had all the vegetation on the hills it would not have been as much of an issue", Targonia said.

Brown, who spoke during an afternoon news conference, said the area hit hard by mudslides and flooding is an "active rescue area" and asked anyone who doesn't need to be there to stay away.

A family of five were also plucked from the debris of their home in a dramatic rescue.

Eight commercial properties were also destroyed and 20 were damaged.

January Storms Unleash First Major Rainfall of Winter
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The mud sweeping homes off their foundations, prompting rescues from the air and on the ground rescuers pull a 14-year old girl from the mud after she was trapped inside a home for hours.

"This means that flooding and debris flows are imminent or occurring in these areas", Santa Barbara County officials announced.

Winfrey posted an update on Wednesday to share that her home sustained minor damage "that pales in comparison to what my neighbors are going thru".

The upmarket neighbourhood includes homes owned by celebrities such as actor Rob Lowe, chat show host Ellen DeGeneres and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

She said: "There clearly were areas that were damaged that were outside of the evacuation area".

Parts of the major north-south highway Route 101 were closed in both directions and not expected to reopen until next week.

A vehicle drives on a muddy road in Montecito, Santa Barbara, the United States, on January 9, 2018.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management said Tuesday night that Montecito would be without potable water, electricity and sanitation "for an extended period of time".

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