The disaster left at least 15 people dead, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Wednesday. At least 25 people have been injured in the mudslides, while more than 50 people were rescued by air, officials said. Over two dozen people were unaccounted for as of Wednesday morning, The New York Times reported.
And those numbers will likely rise, as authorities told the AP flash floods have destroyed 100 single-family homes and damaged 300 more in Santa Barbara County.
Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Yaneris Muniz said crews are continuing to search the area, with a particular focus on people who could be trapped under heavy debris and flooded homes.
Heavy rain over a short period of time on Tuesday caused a torrent of debris ? including mud, tree branches and boulders ? to barrel through Montecito, located roughly 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Dozens of homes were swept away during the storm, according to The Associated Press.
The deadly mudslides ravaged the area less than a month after it was devastated by wildfire.
“It’s going to be worse than anyone imagined for our area,” Mike Eliason, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, told The Los Angeles Times. “Following our fire, this is the worst-case scenario. [/restrict]