Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Cheshire woman to help California mudslide victims

Cheshire woman to help California mudslide victims

Torrential rain triggered a series of catastrophic mudslides in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara on Tuesday morning, reducing buildings to rubble and killing at least 18 people.

Rescue crews were busy sticking poles into thick muck, swollen creeks and tangled trees in search of five missing people while dogs sniffed for bodies.

Several news accounts said that a mudslide swept Roy Rohter, who founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, and his wife, Theresa, from their home in Montecito early January 9.

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Mudslides in Montecito have claimed the lives of at least 17 people, and more than a dozen remain missing.

Garret Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years, was grateful his property had survived.

Santa Barbara County said emergency permits don't require testing of the material for hazards but that public health authorities were testing the ocean waters. "This is an enormous loss for our community".

This was the first notable rain event during the region's rainy season, and the first time heavy precipitation fell since a series of large wildfires scorched hundreds of square miles.

Two of the victims were killed when their houses were swept away in the mudslides.

"My sister was such a good person, she only thought of others to the point that she would cry with you when you were hurt or sick", said Ramos' sister, Jennifer Ramos. To be told so soon to get out created a sort of evacuation fatigue, and many of those who lost everything stayed in their homes for that reason.

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In one of the hardest hit areas, a silver Mercedes-Benz, its front and rear fenders completely destroyed, sat atop a tree stump, the only thing left where a home once Saturday.

Turns out, there was a gas fire as well as the mudslides.

At a destroyed residence where mud-caked 14-year-old Lauren Cantin was rescued Tuesday hours after the early morning disaster hit, fire crews moved pieces of the roof, wood and concrete by hand as they looked for any sign of her missing 17-year-old brother.

John "Jack" Keating - 53 year old transient who often frequents the Montecito riverbed area.

More than 1,200 personnel were assigned to the mudslide area in Montecito as of Friday morning, almost double the amount that was assigned only a day prior. They chose not to leave this time, she said.

Her friend Doug Scott told ABC News that Gower and another friend were on the second floor of her home but ventured downstairs when they heard rumbling.

Sutthithepa and Taylor, his stepfather, the Los Angeles Times reported, were killed when the mudslides came through.

"There's still that chance", said Bret McTigue, a rescue team member and also a Marin County fire battalion chief. Their home of more than 30 years was untouched by the torrents of mud and water.

Seven people had been missing at the start of the day, which saw about another 900 emergency personnel arrive in Montecito, north of Los Angeles, to join the relief effort under way by more than 2,100 personnel from local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and the American Red Cross.

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