Eight Missing, 100 Homes Destroyed, 300 Damaged in California Fl - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Eight Missing, 100 Homes Destroyed, 300 Damaged in California Floods

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy of AP Courtesy of AP
Courtesy of AP Courtesy of AP

The number of people missing after the deadly mudslides in Montecito, California, stands at 8. 

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson says the new number tallied Thursday follows sheriff's investigations of missing-persons reports.

The number of missing persons has fluctuated since the disaster hit early Tuesday morning and had been as low as 16 on Wednesday evening.

Anderson says the number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.

Authorities say 100 single-family homes were destroyed in the flash-floods that struck the coastal enclave of Montecito and adjacent areas of Santa Barbara County.

A county statement Wednesday says an additional 300 homes were damaged.

Eight commercial properties were also destroyed and 20 were damaged.

A storm-related death was also reported in Northern California, where a man was killed when his car was apparently struck by falling rocks in a landslide Tuesday evening in Napa County.

Most of the Southern California deaths occurred in and around Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres.

Winfrey's home survived the mudslides. In an Instagram post on the same day many Democrats were talking about her for president because of her rousing speech at the Golden Globes, she shared photos of the deep mud in her backyard and video of rescue helicopters hovering over her house.

"What a day!" Winfrey said. "Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara."

A mud-caked 14-year-old girl was among the dozens rescued on the ground Tuesday. She was pulled from a collapsed Montecito home where she had been trapped for hours.

"I thought I was dead for a minute there," the dazed girl could be heard saying on the video posted by KNBC-TV before she was taken away on a stretcher.

The mud was unleashed in the dead of night by flash flooding in the steep Santa Ynez Mountains, where hillsides were stripped of vegetation last month by the biggest wildfire on record in California, a 440-square-mile blaze that destroyed 1,063 homes and other structures.

Burned-over zones are especially susceptible to destructive mudslides because scorched earth doesn't absorb water well and the land is easily eroded when there are no shrubs.

The torrent arrived suddenly and with a thunderous sound.

Thomas Tighe said he stepped outside his Montecito home in the middle of the night and heard "a deep rumbling, an ominous sound I knew was ... boulders moving as the mud was rising."

Two cars were missing from his driveway, and he watched two others slowly move sideways down the middle of the street in a river of mud.

In daylight, Tighe was shocked to see a body pinned by muck against his neighbor's home. He wasn't sure who it was.

Authorities had been bracing for the possibility of catastrophic flooding because of heavy rain in the forecast for the first time in 10 months. Evacuations were ordered beneath recently burned areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

But only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of people in a mandatory evacuation area of Santa Barbara County heeded the warning, authorities said.

U.S. Highway 101, the link connecting Ventura and Santa Barbara, looked like a muddy river and was expected to be closed for two days.

The worst of the rainfall occurred in a 15-minute span starting at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. Montecito got more than a half-inch in five minutes, while Carpinteria received nearly an inch in 15 minutes.

"All hell broke loose," said Peter Hartmann, a dentist who moonlights as a news photographer for the local website Noozhawk. "Power lines were down, high-voltage power lines. The large aluminum poles to hold those were snapped in half. Water was flowing out of water mains and sheared-off fire hydrants."

Hartmann watched rescuers revive a toddler pulled unresponsive from the muck.

"It was a freaky moment to see her just covered in mud," he said.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Sarkes Tarzian, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.