Authorities Say Few Heeded California Storm Evacuation Order

Santa Barbara County officials estimate that just 10 to 15 percent of residents ordered to evacuate heeded the warning ahead of a dangerous storm that has killed five people.

Posted: Jan. 9, 2018 12:46 PM
Updated: Jan. 9, 2018 12:46 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Latest on storms in California (all times local):

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12 p.m.

Santa Barbara County officials estimate that just 10 to 15 percent of residents ordered to evacuate heeded the warning ahead of a dangerous storm that has killed five people.

Several homes were swept away before dawn Tuesday when mud and debris roared into neighborhoods in Montecito from hillsides stripped of vegetation during a recent wildfire.

About 21,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders by mid-Monday. County spokeswoman Amber Anderson says only 200 of the 1,200 residents contacted in person had left by the evening.

There is a backlog of calls for rescue or evacuation from the area, where roads are blocked by mud and downed power poles.

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9:53 a.m.

Firefighters have rescued a 14-year-old girl from the rubble of a home devastated by a mudslide in the Montecito area of Southern California after a powerful storm hit an area ravaged by a December wildfire.

Santa Barbara County authorities say there have been five confirmed fatalities as of Tuesday morning and there is a backlog of 75 calls for rescue or evacuation from the area.

The storm hit hard in the early morning hours, sweeping a number of homes off their foundations.

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9:30 a.m.

A fire official says five people have been killed by mudslides that swept Southern California homes from their foundations as a powerful storm drenched recent wildfire burn areas.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni says the bodies were found in mud and debris during rescue operations Tuesday in Montecito northwest of Los Angeles.

KEYT-TV showed a body being loaded into a military-style truck on a mud-covered street.

Zaniboni says "multiple" homes were destroyed and residents are unaccounted for in neighborhoods below hillsides scarred by recent fires.

Crews are clearing debris that closed a section of U.S. 101 along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

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8:45 a.m.

Authorities say two people have been killed by a mudslide that has destroyed homes during a powerful Southern California storm.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni says the bodies were found in mud and debris during rescue operations Tuesday in Montecito northwest of Los Angeles.

Zaniboni says several homes were swept from their foundations and residents are unaccounted for in neighborhoods below hillsides scarred by recent wildfires.

Crews are working to clear debris from a key stretch of U.S. 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

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7:20 a.m.

Several homes have swept from their foundations and residents are unaccounted for as mud flows into Southern California neighborhoods below hillsides scarred by recent wildfires.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni says crews are making rescues across the foothill enclave of Montecito northwest of Los Angeles.

He says some of those rescued were buried in mud and debris. Active searches are underway as rain continues to fall from a huge winter storm that has soaked much of the state.

Crews are working to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a key stretch of U.S. 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

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6:50 a.m.

The wettest rainstorm of the winter dumped steady rain in fire-ravaged Northern California communities but only some fallen trees and minor rockslides were reported overnight.

Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal says no major problems have been reported in the hillsides communities hardest hit by wildfires in October where heavy rain brought the risk of mudslides.

Lingering showers are expected Tuesday, but forecasters say the storm would exit the region by the evening.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported rockslides in the lower Russian River and Sonoma Coast temporarily blocked roads and that about 50 people in the Cazadero area were without power after a tree fell into power lines

The National Weather Service says that more than 2 inches (5centimeters) of rain fell at Sonoma County Airport's and that up to 1 1/2 additional inches were expected by Tuesday morning. Similar amounts were reported across that county.

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6:30 a.m.

Crews are rescuing residents from homes as mud and debris from wildfire-scarred hillsides inundate Southern California neighborhoods during a powerful winter storm.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson says helicopters are being used early Tuesday because roads are blocked by downed trees and power lines.

Anderson says there are reports of injuries, but she didn't immediately know how many or the extent. She says "multiple" residents have been rescued and more are calling for help in Montecito and Carpinteria. Evacuations were ordered in those foothill neighborhoods Monday because of mudslide fears.

Thousands are without power in and around Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles.

The first significant storm of the season has soaked much of the state. A record 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) of rain fell in downtown San Francisco on Monday.

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5:10 a.m.

Heavy rains pounding Southern California for a second day are causing floods and loosening hillsides as officials in fire-ravaged communities warn people to stay off roads over fears of mud and debris flows.

Traffic accidents have slowed the Tuesday morning commute to a crawl across the region, including along coastal U.S. 101 in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. That's where thousands of residents evacuated Monday over fears of destructive mudslides in areas where the state's largest-ever fire raged last month.

Forecasters issued flash flood warnings and predicted the cold front with powerful winds could bring several inches of rain.

A winter weather advisory is in place for mountain areas, where officials warned motorists to prepare for difficult travel conditions, including gusty winds, low visibility and snow-covered roads.

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