Rescue operations are underway in Southern California after torrential rain triggered deadly mudslides in areas recently hit by wildfires.
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that at least 13 people have been killed and 25 people have been injured with crews rescuing 50 people by air and dozens more from the ground. A 14-year-old girl was found alive on Tuesday after firefighters using rescue dogs heard cries for help from what was left of her Montecito home, the Los Angeles Times reported. As of January 10, 13 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured.
Powerful mudslides destroyed homes in the area on Tuesday as rescue crews rushed to search the rubble and mud, which was reported to be 5 feet deep in places.
"We're finding people continuously", said Yaneris Muniz, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Joint Information Centre.
Up to 4 inches of rain has fallen in the areas burned by the wildfire east of Santa Barbara, with surrounding areas receiving 1.5 to 3 inches, according to the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.
Ellen DeGeneres, who lives in Montecito, spoke emotionally on her show Wednesday about what has been happening in her community.
Officials said people in the Romero Canyon neighbourhood of Montecito were cut off after a massive debris flow blocked the road into the area.
"The best way I can describe it is, it looked like a World War One battlefield", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference. This type of soil can not absorb water as easily, making the region more vulnerable to mudslides during heavy rains-such as the ones that dumped five inches of rain on parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties this week.
"We started looking around and that is when we saw parts of roofs, and there was a body against our next door neighbour's vehicle", Mr Funk, a financial adviser, said by phone.
Only an estimated 10 to 15% of residents fled when ordered and much of the damage occurred where evacuations were voluntary.
Burned vegetation and charred soil create a repellent layer which prevents this rainwater from being absorbed.