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13 Dead, Dozens Injured As Massive Flooding Hits California

Tim Pearce on January 9, 2018

A winter storm that triggered flooding and mudslides in California’s Santa Barbara County has taken more than a dozen lives, authorities announced Tuesday.

At least 13 people have died and another 25 have been injured. No more details surrounding the casualties were given, ABC 7 News reports. Emergency crews are combing the area, searching debris and air-lifting injured and stranded residents from homes that have been flooded or wrecked by mud flows.

The Santa Barbara California Fire Department posted photos and videos of the rescue operations and devastation on Twitter.

The effects of the storm were magnified by recent wildfires that left the California countryside barren. Heavy rain caused mudslides that surged off hillsides and mountains, sweeping away vehicles and leveling structures, The Associated Press reports.

“I came around the house and heard a deep rumbling, an ominous sound I knew was … boulders moving as the mud was rising,” Thomas Tighe told the AP after discovering two of his cars missing from his driveway. “I saw two other vehicles moving slowly sideways down the middle of the street in a river of mud.”

Parts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties that were recently burned by wildfires were under mandatory evacuation orders. Only a fraction of people, estimated at 10 to 15 percent, followed the order.

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