Rescue operations are continuing today in Montecito, near Santa Barbara. About 300 people are believed to still be trapped by mud and debris flows in the Romero Canyon area. More than 50 people were be rescued by helicopter yesterday, and dozens more were rescued via ground transportation.
About 23,000 residents were under voluntary evacuation warnings before the mudslides hit. But many opted to stay put. Some people who’d been forced to evacuate last month during the Thomas Fire have “evacuation fatigue.”
Speaking to Press Play, Montecito resident Kathi King described her escape, saying she had to crawl out of her car and hold onto a tree for safety.
“I made it to a tree that had branches sticking out of it. So soon as I got wedged up against the tree I squeezed out of my door and got on the roof of my car and grabbed onto the tree, because at that point I didn’t know how high the water was going to rise,” said King. “I was panicked. I felt better once I was had my arms around the tree because I was recalling tsunami stories where people who were attached to trees were better off.”
At least 17 people have died due to the mudslides.
According to the LA Times, more than 500 firefighters from around the state are helping with the rescue effort, along with agencies like the National Guard and the Coast Guard.
— KCRW in SantaBarbara (@KCRWinSB) January 9, 2018
— Gadi Schwartz (@GadiNBC) January 10, 2018