Residents rescued as mud sweeps away homes in California

Homes have been swept from their foundations and residents are being rescued as mud and debris from wildfire-scarred hillsides flows through neighbourhoods and on to a key southern California highway during a powerful winter storm.

Helicopters are being used to rescue residents as the storm drops record amounts of rain across the state because roads are blocked, Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said.

"The primary issue right now is access. We’ve got trees and power lines down," she said.

There were reports of injuries, but Ms Anderson did not know how many or the extent.

She said "multiple" residents had been taken to safety and dozens more were calling for help in Montecito and Carpinteria.

Some of those rescued were buried in mud, officials said, and thousands were without power.

Crews worked to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a key stretch of US 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Evacuation orders were issued on Monday as forecasters predicted mudslides in foothill neighbourhoods where the state’s largest-ever fire raged last month.

The first significant storm of the season hit much of the state with damaging wind and thunderstorms.

Record-breaking rain fell on the San Francisco Bay region before the system largely passed overnight, leaving diminishing showers before dawn.

Stormy weather continued to the east in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada.

Central San Francisco had 3.15in of rain, smashing the old mark of 2.36in set in 1872 and making it the city’s 16th wettest day since 1849, the National Weather Service said.

To the south, a staggering 9.6in of rain fell on Mining Ridge on the Big Sur coast.

Highway 1, still not recovered from last winter’s damaging rains, suffered new blockages.

Forecasters issued flash flood warnings and predicted that the cold front with powerful winds could bring more rain to central Los Angeles than recorded over the past 10 months.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for about 700 homes in former burn areas of Los Angeles County.

A winter weather advisory was in place for mountain areas, where officials warned motorists to prepare for difficult travel conditions, including gusty winds, low visibility and snow-covered roads

A years-long drought eased in the state last spring, but northern California had a dry start to winter and hardly any measurable rain fell in the south over the past six months.

The extremely dry conditions and high winds last year led to some of the most destructive blazes at both ends of the state.

AP

More in this Section

Israel says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fireIsrael says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fire

California school shooting suspect ‘quiet and smart’California school shooting suspect ‘quiet and smart’

Qantas jet lands in Sydney after non-stop flight from LondonQantas jet lands in Sydney after non-stop flight from London

Trump says impeachment probe has been ‘very hard’ on familyTrump says impeachment probe has been ‘very hard’ on family


Lifestyle

I’d always promised myself a day off school when Gay Bryne died.Secret diary of an Irish teacher: I’ve been thinking about my students, wondering who their ‘Gay Byrne’ will be

In an industry where women battle ageism and sexism, Meryl Streep has managed to decide her own destiny – and roles, writes Suzanne HarringtonJeepers Streepers: Hollywood royalty, all hail queen Meryl

'Ask Audrey' has been the newspaper's hysterical agony aunt “for ages, like”.Ask Audrey: Guten tag. Vot the f**k is the story with your cycle lanes?

Daphne Wright’s major new exhibition at the Crawford addresses such subjects as ageing and consumerism, writes Colette SheridanFinding inspiration in domestic situations

More From The Irish Examiner