Hard search goes on in California mudslides

Joann Johnston
January 14, 2018

Cal Fire puts the affected area at 30 square miles.

The number of missing has fluctuated widely after heavy rains unleashed a fury of devastation.

About 700 rescue workers in helicopters and high-wheeled military vehicles, some with search dogs, were deployed in the hunt for the missing in a disaster zone littered with the remnants of hundreds of damaged or destroyed homes.

And rescue teams were still slogging through the mud, hunting for the missing and assessing the damage. I live there, Oprah lives there.

Farrell runs back into his home and is heard talking to his mother about how the flood waters broke into their home, submerging their furniture and belongings in a layer of thick mud.

Luckily, Farrell and his parents got out of the flood alive.

Seven people had been missing at the start of the day, which saw about another 900 emergency personnel arrive in Montecito, north of Los Angeles, to join the relief effort under way by more than 2,100 personnel from local, state and federal agencies, including the US Coast Guard, the US Navy and the American Red Cross.

Mr Johnson told the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper that the pair joined a fireman to dig the toddler out, before scooping mud out of her mouth.

"Sunday night, Portia (de Rossi) and I got a call that we're under mandatory evacuation, again, with most of the community of Montecito". I'm hoping it's okay.

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"Had we not gone over there, I don't think that kid would have [survived]", he added.

[I] ntense wildfires transform rich soil into a dense, water-repellent surface. "So many times over the past 15 years, people have come up to me and [said] to me that when they're going through a tough time, this show helps them through it".

Meanwhile, the Thomas fire that denuded Santa Barbara's hillsides - the largest wildfire in California's recorded history - was finally, on Friday, reported 100 percent contained.

"There have been many miraculous stories of people lasting many days (following similar disasters) and certainly we are searching for a miracle right now", Sheriff Brown said.

"(But) no storm brings down everything that is susceptible. Residents will not be allowed to return to their homes while the evacuation order is lifted, which may not happen for one or two weeks, officials said.

With most utilities out of commission or about to be cut off, staying behind was not really an option for many.

Short term, making the public ready to evacuate during heavy rains is key, he said.

But when the earth began to move, it was too late.

They slogged through ooze and poked long holes into the mud on Wednesday as they searched for victims a day after the massive debris flow passed through. They had fled following the devastating forest fires last month but this time Mr Farrell Snr, an 81-year-old two time Olympic gold medallist, decided he did not want to leave.

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