Death toll hits 15 in California mudslides; dozens missing

World Today

In Burbank, CA, major mudslides have wreaked havoc and caused damage to neighborhoods and businesses. (PHOTO: May Lee)

In California, the rains have finally stopped, but the evacuations, rescues and cleanup are on-going after heavy rains triggered deadly mudslides in several areas. At least 15 people are dead and hundreds still need rescue.

CGTN’s May Lee has an update.

After unprecedented fires scorched enormous parts of Southern California just weeks ago, unprecedented torrential rains hammered those same burned out areas for two days causing massive mudslides. The hardest hit area is Montecito in Santa Barbara County.

“We had four feet of mud, raging through, counter high through my house,” one resident said.

Another resident was out searching for survivors. ”I’m looking for two sisters, my girlfriend’s sisters. There was 4 of them in the house. Two were found they’re are in the hospital now, and two are still missing. So I’m just going to keep looking.”

“An incredible tragedy”, said another Montecito resident, “because there are a lot of people that would have evacuated had they been told to evacuate, but they were in voluntary areas.”

Rescue crews are scrambling to pluck survivors from their homes. A coast guard team airlifted an entire family, its dog and a newborn baby.

Even Oprah Winfrey, whose been making news since her rousing speech at the Golden Globes, was directly impacted by the mudslides. She posted videos of her mud covered yard and her neighbor’s devastated home on Instagram.

Closer to Los Angeles in Burbank where recent wildfires burned thousands of hectares, a river of mud rushed through a neighborhood leaving a thick layer of silt and debris in its path. Incredibly, no one was injured.

But several vehicles were completely decimated by the power of the mudslide. The rains have gone, but the clean up continues in Burbank and Santa Barbara County. Officials say it will take days to clean up and reopen streets and major highways. So one thing is for sure, recovery won’t be quick and it won’t be easy.