California mudslides: Before and after

Danny Woods
January 14, 2018

This was particularly worrisome: That same area last month was scarred by the Thomas fire which forced people to flee from their homes, many of which went up in flames.

At least 17 people have died as a result of Tuesday's mudslides in California, while more than a dozen remain missing, officials have said.

Southern California's mudslides have killed at least 15 people as of Wednesday morning-up from 13 deaths on Tuesday. Oprah Winfrey also has a property in Montecito that is reportedly worth almost $90 million.

Emergency personnel search through debris and damaged homes after a mudslide in Montecito, California on January 9.

Authorities in Santa Barbara County yesterday were still trying to reach new areas and dig into the destruction to find dead, injured or trapped people after a powerful mudflow swept away dozens of homes.

Santa Barbara County fire spokesperson Mike Eliason said "multiple rescues from vehicles and structures are underway", adding they've already received a number of missing persons reports.

Residents survey damage from mudslides in California which killed at least 15 people
Residents survey damage from mudslides in California which killed at least 15 people

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. Burned landscapes are less capable of absorbing water, making them more susceptible to flooding and mudslides.

Just weeks ago, the rain was desperately needed as wildfires ravaged millions of acres across California.

Among the damaged properties were historic hotels and the homes of celebrities including television personality Oprah Winfrey and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres in Montecito.

Emergency helicopters airlifted about 50 people to safety on Tuesday, according to Kevin Taylor of the Montecito Fire Department. Around 7,000 residents above Montecito closer to the fire zone were the focus of the evacuation order, reported the Los Angeles Times. Marco Ferrel said he ran home after he heard rumbling and found four feet of mud counter-high throughout his house.

The 87-year-old man was "located by a search and rescue team in his residence", said Bill Brown, the sheriff of Santa Barbara county.

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