SANTA BARBARA COUNTY (CBS13) – The deadly rain came overnight Tuesday, dropping 1 inch in just 15 minutes and by daybreak, it looked like a war zone.
At least 13 people died and several were still missing as rescuers continued to search through the next night.
Small creeks turned into raging rivers ripping off the sides of homes and wiping others completely from their foundation.
It sounded like a freight train coming down the hill,” said one victim. “I panicked. They were in asleep and I was in my boots. I just said, ‘There’s mud in the driveway.'”
Firefighters and rescue dogs scoured the area covered in mud for hours. They found a 14-year-old girl trapped in a decimated Montecito home.
From the air, the US Coast Guard and Venture County emergency crews pulled residents to safety. The danger zone extended 100 miles from Santa Barbara to Duarte, a region scorched by wildfires.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. We thought that the fire was terrible. This is devastating,” said a homeowner.
People whose homes survived the Thomas Fire are now faced with this: impassable roads, homes, and driveways covered in mud.
“Our fences and our garages are under mud. It’s a nightmare,” said a resident.
That mud and debris even shut down a 30-mile stretch of Highway 101.
“The mudslide surrounded my car as I was driving 60 mph,” a driver said.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff said at least 13 people have died in a town where everyone knows their neighbors.
A good friend of mine whose name I won’t mention lost a father-in-law. Two of my friends are still missing, so it’s devastating,” said Michael Calcagno, resident and business owner.
Officials plan to conduct search and rescue missions throughout the night into Wednesday morning. Then cleanup will begin, which officials said could take weeks.