US California storm: Cars swept away, body pinned against home

02:00  10 january  2018
02:00  10 january  2018 Source:   Associated Press

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Daybreak brought a more jarring scene: a body pinned against his neighbor's home by a wall of muck. Two of his cars that had been in the driveway already were swept away , and he saw two other vehicles drifting down the road.

Several homes were swept away before dawn Tuesday when mud more. Photo: Daniel Dreifuss, AP. Daybreak brought a more jarring scene: a body pinned against his neighbor's home by a wall of muck.

A structure is smashed against a tree along Hot Springs Road in Montecito, Calif. after getting hit by a flash flood and debris flow on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. 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. (Daniel Dreifuss) © The Associated Press A structure is smashed against a tree along Hot Springs Road in Montecito, Calif. after getting hit by a flash flood and debris flow on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. 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. (Daniel Dreifuss)

LOS ANGELES — In the dark of night, Thomas Tighe saw two vehicles slowly being swept away by a river of mud and debris flowing down the road in front of his house in Montecito, California. Daybreak brought a more jarring scene: a body pinned against his neighbor's home by a wall of muck.

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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. less. Daybreak brought a more jarring scene: a body pinned against his neighbor's home by a wall of muck.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the dark of night, Thomas Tighe saw two vehicles slowly being swept away by a river of mud and debris flowing down the road in front of his house in Montecito, California . Daybreak brought a more jarring scene: a body pinned against his neighbor's home by a wall of muck.

Tighe is CEO of Direct Relief, a Santa Barbara, California-based charitable organization that helps disaster victims. This time, the disaster was "literally in my backyard, and front yard," he said by phone from Montecito, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

The scene left Tighe shaken. His voice quivered and he paused several times as he described seeing the body, repeating several times it's "just so devastating."

At least eight people were killed Tuesday as homes were swept away in the debris flow that formed as rain rushed off hills in Montecito left bare last month by the state's largest-ever wildfire.

Tighe said he was outside around 3:30 a.m. checking his home's downspouts when the rain intensified.

Area destroyed by mudslides was not under mandatory evacuation order

  Area destroyed by mudslides was not under mandatory evacuation order Devastating mudslides that destroyed homes and trapped residents in Montecito on Tuesday occurred in an area that was not under mandatory evacuation orders, officials said. Mud from a swollen creek slammed into homes in the 300 block of Hot Springs Road and nearby streets. Several people in Santa Barbara County died in the mudslides, but it’s unclear how many were in the Montecito neighborhood.The area was not directly in the Thomas fire burn zone, officials said.

In the dark of night, Thomas Tighe saw two vehicles slowly being swept away by a river of mud and debris flowing down the road in front of his house in Montecito, California . Daybreak brought a more jarring scene: a body pinned against his neighbor's home by a wall of muck.

– In the dark of night, Thomas Tighe saw two vehicles slowly being swept away by a river of mud and debris flowing down the road in front of his house in Montecito, California . Daybreak brought a more jarring scene: a body pinned against his neighbour’s home by a wall of muck.

"I came around the house and heard a deep rumbling, an ominous sound that I knew was the boulders moving as the mud was rising," he said.

Two of his cars that had been in the driveway already were swept away, and he saw two other vehicles drifting down the road.

With his street thick with rushing mud it was too late to heed the area's voluntary evacuation advisory so he woke his wife and children and prepared to get them up to the roof.

"I tried not to panic them, but I panicked them," Tighe said.

Slideshow by photo services

For the next three hours he and his neighbors did what they could to keep their houses from being inundated. When daylight came the devastation came into focus.

He watched in shock as rescuers plucked a family from their roof, where they had been huddled for several hours with a 3-month-old child. There were car-sized boulders and chunks of buildings on the street.

Tighe and his family trudged through thigh-deep mud to his sister's nearby house. Just one street away, it was a dramatically different scene. No debris, just puddles.

"Everything was fine," Tighe said.

Devastated by mudslides, Montecito has nowhere for debris and more rain is on the way .
The massive cleanup effort is still taking place, with debris ending up at fairgrounds and the beachMud, cars, and remnants of 100-year-old trees now fill 11 debris fields in Montecito.

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