Santa Barbara-area mudslides kill 18, Highway 101 closed

21 hours ago

Heavy rainfall triggered mudslides in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, around 4 a.m. on January 9. Officials confirmed at least 18 people died after being caught in crushed homes, flash floods or debris flows. Caltrans has closed Highway 101 in both directions between the junction of SR 150 and Milpas Street in Santa Barbara, a 30-mile stretch of highway, effectively cutting off access south for Santa Barbara.

UPDATE 01/12/18  6 P.M. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced another body had been unearthed on Friday, bringing the number of people killed in the disaster to 18. Caltrans announced that the estimated Monday reopening of Highway 101 will most likely not happen as planned. The agency  said it simply didn’t known when crews could sufficiently clean off the standing water and debris enough to allow cars back on the roadway. Call toll free 833-688-5551 or text to 805-699-0165 for updated information. 

UPDATE 01/12/18 11 A.M. Over 1,200 people are involved in the search and rescue effort, reports KCLU, and the number of missing has dropped to five. CalFire has established public information phone and text lines. Call toll free 833-688-5551 or text to 805-699-0165 for updated information. 

UPDATE 01/11/18 11 P.M. The county's sheriff's office released the names of those who died in the disaster. At Thursday afternoon's press conference, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said officials now considered 43 people missing. New mandatory evacuation orders were issued for a 30-square-mile area, from the ocean to Hot Springs Road on the west, the national forest to the north and Ortega Ridge to the east. Click here for information from the county.

UPDATE 01/11/18 10 A.M. The number of missing persons has been revised to eight. Amtrak announced that train tracks in the Montecito area have re-opened, and trains are starting to run.

UPDATE 01/10/18 5 P.M. Officials said two more bodies were found during searches Wednesday. Over 500 responders and ten dogs are working around the clock to look for survivors. At least 13 people remain missing. 

UPDATE 01/10/18 2 P.M. Caltrans says both directions of Highway 101 between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara won't be open until at least Monday, Jan. 15. An informational press conference is planned for 4 p.m. Wednesday to provide an update on the search and rescue effort. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said there remains a group of people unaccounted for as of Tuesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the county announced the opening of a family assistance center at First Presbyterian Church at 21 E. Constance Street for people "looking for assistance in looking for friends/family affected by the storm," open until 8 p.m. Tuesday evening and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Our colleagues at KCLU are reporting first responders have had to rescue some people in Montecito.

A few days before the Christmas holiday weekend, thousands of Santa Barbara County residents returned home after forced evacuations from the Thomas Fire. Now Santa Barbara County has issued more evacuation orders effective Monday; this time it’s for the threat of mudslides and flash flooding. The forecast is calling for strong winds and two to four inches of rain in the foothills through Tuesday night.

Neighborhoods below or bordering the Thomas, Whittier, Sherpa and Rey Fires burn areas are particularly at risk.

County officials sent out notices Sunday calling on Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria residents to leave their homes no later than noon Monday, including all areas north of Highway 192 - east of Cold Springs Road and west of Highway 150 and the Santa Barbara/Ventura county line.

“Also included in this order are the areas along Tecolote Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon, Gato Canyon, and the Whittier burn areas near Goleta,” according to the county notice.

A voluntary evacuation warning is in effect for all neighborhoods south of Highway 192 to the ocean, east of Hot Springs Road and west of Highway 150. Those who have questions about evacuations can call 2-1-1 or see information at Santa Barbara County’s website.