The Santa Barbara County Fire Department previously reported that numerous people were trapped in their homes or cars by the mudslides. Roads have been closed and rescue operations are underway in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown added that the number was likely to increase as search and rescue operations continue. "While we hope it will not," Sheriff Brown added.
— Joe Buttitta (@KEYTNC3Joe) January 9, 2018
The huge storm also swept some homes away, creating a flood of debris and dirt. About 300 people are estimated to be stranded in a single Montecito neighborhood, while 50 others have been rescued from their homes or cards.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says Montecito looks like a World War I battlefield. A carpet of knee-deep mud, boulders, downed power lines, and wrecked cars. All challenges to get to people who are waiting to be rescued from massive flooding.— Scott Hennessee (@KCOYScott) January 10, 2018
— Brandi Hitt (@ABC7Brandi) January 9, 2018
Already, the incident is deadlier than the 2005 California mudslide — which took place only 20 miles from Tuesday's disaster. Southern California was also the site of tremendous wildfires in December 2017 that killed two people, destroyed 300 acres of forest and caused $3 billion in damages — making them the most destructive fires in California history.