Mudslides and flooding kill at least 13 in California


The 101 Freeway in Santa Barbara County is expected to remain shut down through January 15 due to the devastating mudslides and flooding that have killed at least 17 people in Montecito.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from San Diego helped rescue a family of five and two dogs from the roof of a home in the mudslide's path in Montecito. With the wildfires leaving behind a waxy layer of debris that made it hard for water to infiltrate the ground, the downpour caused flash floods in the fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains.

Mud flowed "waist-high" 30 miles away in Montecito after heavy rainfall shortly after midnight, said Mike Eliason, a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. Authorities are also using helicopters to rescue people from inaccessible areas.

The slides occurred in the area of the massive Thomas fire that recently was extinguished.

Devastating mudslides in California last night has now killed 17 people as rescuers frantically search for survivors.

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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"Firefighters successfully rescued a 14-yr-old girl after she was trapped for hours inside a destroyed home in Montecito", it added.

Bill Brown, sheriff of Santa Barbara, said: "The best way I can describe it is, it looked like a World War One battlefield".

Floodwaters destroyed about 100 homes and damaged 300 more in Santa Barbara County.

Oprah Winfrey's home was among the many damaged by the Southern California flash floods and mudslides that resulted in at least a dozen fatalities.

Footage from Santa Barbara shows entire streets covered in mud and debris as well as flooded roads and highways, which remain closed, covered with rocks and boulders.

Weeks after being set ablaze with wildfires, California was hit with a series of deadly mudslides that left devastation in their wake.