Southern California mudslides: 17 dead, others missing

Updated 12:49 AM EST, Thu January 11, 2018
KERRY MANN navigates the large boulders and mudflow that destroyed the home of her friend in Montecito. The woman who lives in the home has not been seen since the early hours of Tuesday. At least 15 people died and thousands fled their homes in Southern California as a powerful rainstorm triggered flash floods and mudslides on slopes where a series of intense wildfires had burned off protective vegetation last month.
Mike Eliason/SBC Fire Department/Newscom/ZUMA Press/Newscom
KERRY MANN navigates the large boulders and mudflow that destroyed the home of her friend in Montecito. The woman who lives in the home has not been seen since the early hours of Tuesday. At least 15 people died and thousands fled their homes in Southern California as a powerful rainstorm triggered flash floods and mudslides on slopes where a series of intense wildfires had burned off protective vegetation last month.
Now playing
01:14
Rivers of mud wreak havoc in California
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NOAA-20 acquired this image of Hurricane Laura at 2:20 a.m. Central Daylight Time on August 26, 2020.
NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NOAA-20 acquired this image of Hurricane Laura at 2:20 a.m. Central Daylight Time on August 26, 2020.
Now playing
01:13
Another active hurricane season is forecasted with 17 named storms
This picture taken on July 26, 2015 shows a child playing in a fountain on a square to cool himself amid a heatwave in Binzhou, eastern China's Shandong province.   CHINA OUT     AFP PHOTO        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
This picture taken on July 26, 2015 shows a child playing in a fountain on a square to cool himself amid a heatwave in Binzhou, eastern China's Shandong province. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:14
What NOT to do in a heat wave
Larry Pierson, from the Isle of Palms, S.C., purchases bottled water from the Harris Teeter grocery store on the Isle of Palms in preparation for Hurricane Florence at the Isle of Palms S.C., Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Mic Smith/AP
Larry Pierson, from the Isle of Palms, S.C., purchases bottled water from the Harris Teeter grocery store on the Isle of Palms in preparation for Hurricane Florence at the Isle of Palms S.C., Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Now playing
00:57
How to prepare for a hurricane
how hail is formed explainer orig_00000021.jpg
how hail is formed explainer orig_00000021.jpg
Now playing
01:00
How hail is formed
IN SPACE - In this handout photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Patricia is seen from the International Space Station. The hurricane made landfall on the Pacfic coast of Mexico on October 23. (Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images)
NASA
IN SPACE - In this handout photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Patricia is seen from the International Space Station. The hurricane made landfall on the Pacfic coast of Mexico on October 23. (Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:07
Why hurricanes are so hard to predict
Storm chasing photographers take photos underneath a rotating supercell storm system in Maxwell, Nebraska on September 3, 2016. Although multiple tornado warnings were issued throughout the area, no funnel cloud touched down. / AFP / Josh Edelson / XGTY
RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE  / MANDATORY CREDIT:  "AFP PHOTO / Josh EDELSON" / NO MARKETING / NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS /  DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS  ==        (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
JOSH EDELSON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Storm chasing photographers take photos underneath a rotating supercell storm system in Maxwell, Nebraska on September 3, 2016. Although multiple tornado warnings were issued throughout the area, no funnel cloud touched down. / AFP / Josh Edelson / XGTY RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / MANDATORY CREDIT: "AFP PHOTO / Josh EDELSON" / NO MARKETING / NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS / DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS == (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:59
The difference between a tornado watch and a warning
Now playing
01:26
Hurricanes: What you don't know
Courtesy Amy Lloyd
Now playing
01:06
Why flash floods are so dangerous
Now playing
01:54
Why snow and blackouts in Texas are a preview for all of us
ring of fire chad myers weather orig_00003221.jpg
ring of fire chad myers weather orig_00003221.jpg
Now playing
01:13
What is the 'Ring of Fire'?
TOPSHOT - A city worker drives through the flooded street during Hurricane Sally in downtown Pensacola, Florida on September 16, 2020. - Hurricane Sally barrelled into the US Gulf Coast early Wednesday, with forecasts of drenching rains that could provoke "historic" and potentially deadly flash floods.The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the Category 2 storm hit Gulf Shores, Alabama at about 4:45 am (0945 GMT), bringing maximum sustained winds of about 105 miles (165 kilometers) per hour."Historic life-threatening flooding likely along portions of the northern Gulf coast," the Miami-based center had warned late Tuesday, adding the hurricane could dump up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in some areas. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A city worker drives through the flooded street during Hurricane Sally in downtown Pensacola, Florida on September 16, 2020. - Hurricane Sally barrelled into the US Gulf Coast early Wednesday, with forecasts of drenching rains that could provoke "historic" and potentially deadly flash floods.The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the Category 2 storm hit Gulf Shores, Alabama at about 4:45 am (0945 GMT), bringing maximum sustained winds of about 105 miles (165 kilometers) per hour."Historic life-threatening flooding likely along portions of the northern Gulf coast," the Miami-based center had warned late Tuesday, adding the hurricane could dump up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in some areas. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:41
How to prepare for severe weather
Franck Verdière/Twitter
Now playing
01:10
What 'rapid intensification' means for storms
natural disasters climate change project planet weir orig_00000313.jpg
CNN
natural disasters climate change project planet weir orig_00000313.jpg
Now playing
03:42
The future of climate change is here, scientist warns
Now playing
01:29
Steer like this to stay out of accidents in the snow
how hurricanes are named orig_00002729.jpg
how hurricanes are named orig_00002729.jpg
Now playing
01:38
How are hurricanes named?

Story highlights

More than 500 first responders and 10 dogs continue to search for people

"It was literally a carpet of mud and debris everywhere," official says

CNN —  

The founder of a Catholic school is among the 17 people killed in deadly mudslides and flooding in Southern California. Hundreds of rescuers and dogs continued searching for people Wednesday, slogging through mud and debris.

Roy Rohter, 84, and his wife, Theresa, were swept from their Montecito home, the headmaster said. Theresa was rescued, said Michael Van Hecke, headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, which Rohter founded in 1994.

Authorities have not confirmed the names of the dead. Children are among the victims, said Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason.

Heavy rains early Tuesday caused rivers of mud and debris to run down from hillsides in Santa Barbara County, demolishing homes in the affluent seaside community of Montecito weeks after wildfires in the area. Many people are on edge, awaiting news about missing loved ones.

Before and after images of the 101 freeway from Olive Mill Road in Montecito.

Google Earth/Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Latest developments

• Victims list: Officials have released the names of the 17 people killed. The victims ranged from 3 years old to 89 years old.

More missing: Officials said 17 people were unaccounted for.

Rescue operation: More than 500 first responders and 10 dogs continued to search for people in Santa Barbara County.

Trapped residents evacuated: First responders used a helicopter to rescue some of 300 residents trapped by debris blocking their way out of Montecito’s Romero Canyon area, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. Some residents wanted to stay in their homes, Brown said.

Hundreds of calls: As the storm hit hard between 3 and 6 a.m. Tuesday, sheriff’s office dispatchers handled more than 600 phone calls for assistance, Brown said.

Rescues: Dozens of people have been rescued in Santa Barbara County, officials said. The US Coast Guard said it used helicopters Tuesday to collect people from rooftops, including a couple and their three children in Carpinteria.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew pulls a person onto a roof after mud overtook a house in Carpinteria.
U.S. Coast Guard
A Coast Guard helicopter crew pulls a person onto a roof after mud overtook a house in Carpinteria.

Injured: Twenty-eight people were hurt in Santa Barbara County, officials said.

Destruction: Floodwaters and mudslides destroyed 100 homes and damaged another 300 residences in Santa Barbara County.

Road closed: Sections of US 101, a major thoroughfare connecting Northern and Southern California, are closed until Monday.