Mudslide-stricken California town is all but emptied out

Annette Crawford
January 14, 2018

The deluge destroyed 100 houses and damaged 300 others, Santa Barbara County authorities said.

Most of the people of Montecito, a town usually known for its serenity and luxury, were under orders to stay out of town as gas and power were expected to be shut off Saturday for repairs.

As their names and those of 14 other victims were released Thursday, crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people.

Gower is among those who have been reported dead in Santa Barbara County, Brewer said.

Joseph Bleckel, 87, was found in his home on Friday, the sheriff's office said.

The majority of fatalities reported so far occurred in Montecito, the wealthiest district in Santa Barbara.

Among those killed in the mudslides was Mark Montgomery, MD, an orthopedic hand surgeon affiliated with Santa Barbara-based Cottage Health and the Santa Barbara-based private practice Associated Hand Surgeons, according to KSBY-6 News.

U.S. Highway 101 at the Olive Mill Road overpass is flooded with runoff water from Montecito Creek in Montecito. "I should have just told her to leave". "It's very thick mud and you're just poking around".


Singer Katy Perry, who grew up in the area and still has a home there, posted this message of support on her Instagram story on Thursday.

But the main artery connecting the Central Coast with Southern California will remain closed indefinitely, as Caltrans rescinded its estimated Monday reopening for Highway 101, which has been shut down since the mudslides. "I live there, Oprah lives there", she went on.

Patrick Casey, owner of the State & Fig restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara, said he's anxious but expressed confidence that his business, and the community, will snap back. "Helicopters rescued some people who climbed onto the roofs of their homes to escape the torrent of water, and mud".

The number of searchers and recovery workers in Montecito surged to more than 2,000 in the days after significant rain led to mudslides that ravaged an area previously scorched by the Thomas Fire, which officials said was fully contained on Friday.

Marin County fire Battalion Chief and team member Graham Groneman said they are glad to use their skills to aid the community. He had been a clinical instructor in the department of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School, according to his office's website. Tuesday's debris flows killed at least 13 people and injured at least 25. Then the mudslide hit.

"From what I saw, the water has actually risen from the first day of the storm, so that's not a good sign", she said, adding that more equipment is not the problem.

A Marin rescue team working in Santa Barbara County is holding out hope that those buried by mud and debris will be pulled out alive, although the time left to save lives is dwindling. Those killed were as young as 3 and as old as 84. "Direct Relief is committed for as long as it takes to help the Santa Barbara and Montecito community recover from these tragic events". He said those who perished range in age from three to 89 years old."There are four juveniles on the list", he said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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