Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

At Least 15 Dead After Southern California Mudslides

At Least 15 Dead After Southern California Mudslides

"We realise that this is going to be a long and hard journey for all of us and our community", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. The fire destroyed more than 1,000 structures.

Editor's Note: As of 7:30 am EST Thursday the California mudslides death toll has risen to 17.

Southern California Public Radio reported that "only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of people in a mandatory evacuation area of Santa Barbara County heeded the warning", though the disaster primarily struck an area that was not under mandatory evacuation.

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

Search dogs, helicopters and thermal imaging equipment are being used to find victims or survivors, with rescuers battling through waist-deep mud in some areas.

The dead were identified - all from Montecito, ranging in age from 3 to 89 years old.

"I thought I was dead there for a minute", teenager Lauren Cantin, covered in mud, said after workers spent six hours rescuing her, NBC News reported.

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"Rescue crews have managed to clear the roadways to free the 300 residence that have been trapped since Tuesday in Romero Canyon", Eliason added.

Cia Monroe said her family of four was lucky their home wasn't ruined and they were all healthy and safe, though her daughter lost one of her best friends. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office via AP) In this photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad through Montecito, blocked with mudflow and debris.

Southern California, which just endured the largest wildfire in state history, is being bombarded by flooding and destructive mudslides triggered by torrential downpours.

After a wildfire, burned vegetation and charred soil create a water repellent layer which blocks water absorption.

Some local residents had to flee their homes due to the fires last month, and again this week because of the rain.

"Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where risky mud and debris flows are possible", said the National Weather Service in a statement.

"I started hearing this roar right after I saw the fireball".

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