At least 15 people were killed as heavy rain sent mud and boulders in southern California. The torrent arrived suddenly and with a sound some likened to a freight train as water carrying rocks and trees washed away cars and trashed homes. Rescue crews used helicopters to lift people to safety because of blocked roads.
Most deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, a wealthy enclave that is home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey and Rob Lowe . Fatalities number could increase when the search is expanded. Authorities had warning for the possibility of catastrophic flooding because of heavy rain in the forecast for the first time in 10 months.
Rescuers in California
Evacuations were ordered in recently burned areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties but only an estimated 10 to 15% of people in a mandatory evacuation area of Santa Barbara County heeded the warning. “Right now our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. The sheriff also said “at least several dozen homes that have been either destroyed or severely damaged, and likely many other ones are in areas that are as-yet inaccessible.” Twenty people were hospitalized and four were described as “severely critical” by Dr Brett Wilson of Santa Barbara Cottage hospital. The storm cleared out.