California man recounts last moments before losing life partner in mudslide

California man recounts last moments before losing life partner in mudslide

A massive influx of search and rescue crews scoured parts of California's Santa Barbara County on Saturday for seven people still missing following mudslides that killed at least 18.

A search and rescue team make their way up a mud covered hillside in Montecito on January 12, 2018.

The mudslides also injured almost 30 people and destroyed about 100 homes in the Montecito area between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest.

Tanker trucks sucked muddy water from flooded sections of USA 101, the only direct major artery between Los Angeles and the Santa Barbara region and an important route for many people who work in the Santa Barbara region but live down the coast in Ventura County.

Sarah Ettman's home was undamaged, and her section of town still had gas and electricity, even though nearby Romero Creek was choked with cars, trees and rocks. "It's martial law here, basically".

"I ran as fast I could and yelled, "Flash flood!' as I passed neighbors" homes", he said. "When those go down, you have to leave". Rescue workers were searching for more missing people on Saturday.

Joseph Bleckel, 87, was found in his home on Friday, the sheriff's office said. His is the first death announced from the slide since Wednesday.

"We have a yard to redo and hopefully our insurance will help out with that, but the people across from me, newer homes, gone", said Garrett Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years. She hoped to find them in a shelter or hospital.

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The husbands of both women and the 2-year-old son of Fabiola Benitez, were hospitalized with injuries, Ramos said.

A wall of water carrying uprooted trees and boulders flowed like a river through the residential street. U.S. Route 101, California's primary coastal route, remains partially shut down.

The 101 Freeway has been closed since Tuesday. It erupted December 4 in Ventura County and destroyed more than 1,000 structures as it swept through the city of Ventura and then threatened Carpinteria, Summerland and Santa Barbara.

Brown said some of those people could have left the area before or after the mudslides or may simply be out of touch with people concerned about them.

In Los Angeles, teams evaluate potential threat areas by examining the potential road blocks, slope erosion and the possibility of deadly conditions and then decide which areas should be under mandatory evacuation orders or voluntary warnings.

Peter Fleurat, 73, who studied nursing at Santa Barbara City College and worked as an end-of-life caregiver, died after water swept through his Montecito home, KSBY reported.

More than 29,000 people are under the evacuation orders which could last for at least a week.

The catastrophe struck on Tuesday after heavy downpours drenched the area near Montecito, where vegetation that normally would have soaked up heavy rainfall had been stripped a month ago by the largest wildfire in California's recorded history. "Your prayers and best wishes are most appreciated".

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