Published on : Thursday, January 11, 2018
The anxious family members awaited word on loved ones on Wednesday as rescue crews searched for those still unaccounted for.
The drenching storm triggered the mudslide that had cleared out, giving way to sunny skies, as hundreds of searchers carefully combed a landscape strewn with this natural hazards.
Buzzerio led a team of 14 firefighters and six dogs in thick debris. They used long-handled tools to search the muck in the painstaking task. The teams rescued three people on Wednesday, but they also discovered two more bodies, raising the death count to 17, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. Thirteen people were missing.
The mud flood destroyed more than 100 houses and damaged 300 others in Santa Barbara County. There are eight commercial properties were destroyed and 20 damaged.
There are some 500 firefighters and other rescue workers were searching debris spread across a wide area of Montecito, a wealthy area of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles.
The helicopters were used to lift more than 50 people to safety from roofs, where they scrambled to escape the mud or because debris had blocked roads and left them stranded.
The people in Montecito had counted themselves lucky last month after the biggest wildfire in California spared the town. But it was the fire that led to the mudslide, by burning away vegetation. It was about 10 to 15% of residents fled when ordered and much of the damage occurred where evacuations were voluntary. The flow was so powerful it swept several homes off their foundations, crushed others and wrapped cars around trees and swept it.