Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Nation & World

6 dead as mudslides add misery to fire-ravaged Southern California

MONTECITO, Calif. — At least six people were killed and homes were torn from their foundations Tuesday as downpours sent mud and boulders roaring down hills stripped of vegetation by a gigantic wildfire that raged in Southern California last month.

Rescue crews used helicopters to lift people to safety because debris blocked roads, and firefighters slogged through waist-high mud to pull a grimy 14-year-old girl from a collapsed Montecito home where she had been trapped for hours.

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

Five of the bodies were found 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, Santa Barbara County fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

The mud was unleashed in the dead of night by flash flooding in the steep, fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains. 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 of mud early Tuesday swept away cars and destroyed several homes, reducing them to piles of lumber. Photos posted on social media showed waist-deep mud in living rooms.

Some residents were unaccounted for in neighborhoods hard to reach because of downed trees and power lines, Zaniboni said.

"I came around the house and heard a deep rumbling, an ominous sound I knew was ... boulders moving as the mud was rising," said Thomas Tighe, who discovered two of his cars missing from the driveway. "I saw two other vehicles moving slowly sideways down the middle of the street in a river of mud."

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.

Marshall Miller, who evacuated his home in Montecito on Monday with his family, returned to check for damage and found his neighborhood devastated. He never reached his home because two of his neighbors, an elderly woman and her adult daughter, needed a lift to the hospital after being rescued by firefighters.

The pair had left their house before it was inundated with 6 feet of mud, but they got trapped outside in the deep muck.

"It was sobering," Miller said. "I saw them covered in mud and shaking from the cold."

The path of the torrent was graphically illustrated on the side of a white colonial-style house, where a dark gray stain created a wavy pattern halfway up the front windows.

Cars were washed off roads, and one was deposited upside down in a tangle of tree limbs. In Los Angeles, a police cruiser got swamped in tire-deep mud.

A stretch of U.S. Highway 101 that connects Ventura County to Santa Barbara County looked like a muddy river clogged with trees and other debris. A kayak was marooned in the flotsam, and a Range Rover was buried up to its bumpers.

Some of the worst damage was on Montecito’s Hot Springs Road, where the unidentified girl was rescued. Large boulders were washed out of a previously dry creek bed and scattered across the road.

A rescuer working with a search dog walked among the ruins of a house as the yellow Labrador wagged its tail and scrambled into a devastated building, looking for anyone trapped inside. Its belly and paws were black from the mud.

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

The communities are beneath the scar left by a wildfire that erupted Dec. 4 and became the largest ever recorded in California. It spread over more than 440 square miles (1,140 square kilometers) and destroyed 1,063 homes and other structures. It continues to smolder deep in the wilderness.

The storm walloped much of the state with damaging winds and thunderstorms. Downtown San Francisco got a record 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) of rain on Monday, smashing the old mark of 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) set in 1872.

     
Comments
Cohen’s claim about Trump may spark calls for impeachment but is unlikely to lead to charges

Cohen’s claim about Trump may spark calls for impeachment but is unlikely to lead to charges

The assertion by President Donald Trump’s former lawyer that he broke campaign finance laws at the direction of then-candidate Trump could spark calls for impeachment hearings - but probably will not have any legal consequences for the president whil...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Man charged with killing Mollie Tibbetts is an undocumented immigrant, authorities say

Man charged with killing Mollie Tibbetts is an undocumented immigrant, authorities say

Authorities have announced a first-degree murder charge against Christian Rivera, 24, in the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbets.Rivera is an undocumented immigrant and led detectives to her body in rural Poweshiek County, according to Iowa ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Cohen reaches plea deal, due to appear in court

Cohen reaches plea deal, due to appear in court

Two people familiar with the financial fraud investigation of Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, say he has reached a plea agreement. Cohen is due to appear in federal court in New York at 4 p.m. Tuesday. He was earlier seen goin...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Microsoft uncovers more Russian attacks ahead of midterms

Microsoft uncovers more Russian attacks ahead of midterms

Microsoft has uncovered new Russian hacking efforts targeting U.S. political groups ahead of the midterm elections.The company said Tuesday that a group tied to the Russian government created fake websites that appeared to spoof two American conserva...
Published: 08/21/18
Confederate statue on UNC campus toppled by protesters

Confederate statue on UNC campus toppled by protesters

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A Confederate statue in the heart of North Carolina’s flagship university was toppled Monday night during a rally by hundreds of protesters who decried the memorial known as "Silent Sam" as a symbol of racist heritage. The statue ...
Published: 08/21/18
U.S. deports former Nazi camp guard, 95, to Germany

U.S. deports former Nazi camp guard, 95, to Germany

BERLIN — The last Nazi war crimes suspect facing deportation from the U.S. was taken from his New York City home and spirited early Tuesday morning to Germany, the White House said.The deportation of the 95-year-old former concentration camp guard, J...
Published: 08/21/18
Amid scandals, Catholics consider cutting donations

Amid scandals, Catholics consider cutting donations

For decades, Michael Drweiga has opened his wallet whenever the donation basket comes around at church, but the latest revelations of priests sexually abusing children brought him to the conclusion that he can no longer justify giving. Brice Sokolows...
Published: 08/19/18
ICE arrested a wanted man driving his pregnant wife to give birth. She drove herself to the hospital.

ICE arrested a wanted man driving his pregnant wife to give birth. She drove herself to the hospital.

Maria del Carmen Venegas was on her way to deliver a baby boy, her fifth child, by Caesarean section in a planned operation Wednesday afternoon. Her husband, Joel Arrona-Lara, was driving her car to the hospital.Two SUVs swooped in to block the vehic...
Published: 08/19/18
Trump cancels military parade, blaming Washington officials for inflating costs

Trump cancels military parade, blaming Washington officials for inflating costs

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday canceled plans for a military parade this fall in Washington, blaming local officials for inflating the estimated costs, saying they "know a windfall when they see it."Trump said he would instead attend a...
Published: 08/17/18
Fentanyl use drove drug overdose deaths to a record high in 2017, CDC estimates

Fentanyl use drove drug overdose deaths to a record high in 2017, CDC estimates

Drug overdose deaths surpassed 72,000 in 2017, according to provisional estimates recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represents an increase of more than 6,000 deaths, or 9.5 percent, over the estimate for the pr...
Published: 08/16/18