MONTECITO, California - Mudslides have turned deadly in southern California. At least five people have been killed, at least six homes have been destroyed, roads have been forced to close due to flooding and the life-threatening destruction is far from over.
California needed the rain, but Mother Nature's timing could not be worse. The deluge comes just weeks after the devastating wildfires in the same areas.
Vegetation that would ordinarily hold the hills together and make the terrain flood-resistant was burned away. With nothing to prevent the flowing debris, flash floods and mudslides are all but guaranteed. And they are taking with them anything in their path; cars included.
The National Weather Service predicts some fire-affected areas could see up to nine inches of rain before this is over.
"If it is as bad as they are predicting, we may not be going anywhere for a few days," said Mick Mankowski.
Homes that are simply surrounded by mud are considered the lucky ones. Others have been destroyed when the walls cave in, spilling mud and muck throughout.
There's been no rest for the weary. Firefighters who have been rescuing mud-trapped survivors since daybreak.
"What we are hearing from the local fire department is catastrophic," said David Boyd.
More than 6,000 people who live below the areas scorched by the wildfires were under mandatory evacuation orders. Another 20,000 were given voluntary evacuation warnings.
Mankowski said, "For sure there's going to be problems on the freeway."
Many roads have been closed off already due to running rivers of mud and debris. That means, residents who have not yet evacuated may be running out of time.