US ‘It was just wiped clean’: Reckoning with the toll of the California mudslides

03:18  13 january  2018
03:18  13 january  2018 Source:   msn.com

California storm: Cars swept away, body pinned against home

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

Mudslides were a possible result of the recent wildfires' denuding the hillsides of trees. Just a piece of a wall remained, said Clay Weimer, the couple's son-in-law. " It was like a construction crew came in and wiped it ; it was clean ," Weimer said in a telephone interview Friday.

“ It was like a construction crew came in and wiped it ; it was clean ,” Weimer said in a telephone interview Friday. “ It hardly had any mud on it . Just days after intense rains triggered deadly mudslides in Montecito, satellite images reveal the destruction.

A firefighter looks through a car next to a home that was destroyed by a mudslide in Montecito, Calif. At least 17 people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged after massive mudslides crashed through the town early Tuesday morning. © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images A firefighter looks through a car next to a home that was destroyed by a mudslide in Montecito, Calif. At least 17 people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged after massive mudslides crashed through the town early Tuesday morning.

When the flooding began early Tuesday, Alice and James Mitchell were still at their home in Montecito, Calif., just a mile from the beach. The couple had celebrated James's 89th birthday on Monday, but they also had spent part of the day preparing to evacuate in case they were ordered to leave. Mudslides were possible as a result of the recent wildfires denuding the hillsides of trees.

Man hailed as a hero for rescuing baby from mudslides

  Man hailed as a hero for rescuing baby from mudslides <p>First Berkeley Johnson heard the roar, then he saw the rush of mud.</p>"Coming up from the river was just trees dropping, and then I saw it, probably 20 feet high of just rock and cars and trunks of trees, and I just ran for it," Johnson told "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor. So he got up on a roof, but said he thought he could die.

' It was just wiped clean ': Reckoning with the toll of the California mudslides - detail search - en.sohowgood.com.

' It was just wiped clean ': Reckoning with the toll of the California mudslides - Washington Post - detail search - en.sohowgood.com.

Then came the rain, which sent rivers of water, mud and debris roaring through the scenic coastal community just south of Santa Barbara. When it was over, the Mitchell home was gone, washed down the road toward the ocean. Just a piece of a wall remained, said Clay Weimer, their son-in-law.

"It was like a construction crew came in and wiped it, it was clean," Weimer said in a telephone interview Friday. "It hardly had any mud on it. It was just wiped clean."

Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

Weimer said his wife, Kelly, had tried to reach her parents beginning Tuesday morning, and the bad news came Wednesday: The bodies of James and Alice, married for five decades and grandparents of six, had been found in the detritus.

Ellen DeGeneres Struggles to Hold Back Tears as She FaceTimes Oprah Following Deadly Mudslides

  Ellen DeGeneres Struggles to Hold Back Tears as She FaceTimes Oprah Following Deadly Mudslides Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey joined together to discuss the Montecito mudslides that have brought deadly destruction to their neighborhood in Santa Barbara County, California.&nbsp;The death toll from Tuesday’s mudslides currently stands at 17.

The Latest: Death toll from California mudslide rises to 17 - www.halifaxtoday. ca . Authorities now say 17 people have died in Southern California mudslides and another 13 are missing.

‘ It was just wiped clean ’: Reckoning with the toll of the California mudslides . MINI MIGHTY MUTTS RESCUE is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Tax ID: 27-3532783).

"The main target, you would swear, was [their] house," said Weimer, 59, a software engineer. "Everybody in the path of that was doomed. . . . It's devastating."

The disaster has claimed at least 17 lives, cutting across generations and killing parents alongside their children. The youngest victim was 3. James Mitchell was the oldest, at 89. All were killed by "multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides," according to the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office.

In an area where the Thomas Fire already had caused lengthy evacuations last month, many said a sense of weariness had set in. People had packed up, left and come back, and some weren't so eager to leave again. Authorities warned Monday that many in Montecito should flee ahead of the rains, but not everyone did.

Alice and James Mitchell had been forced from their home once, evacuating weeks earlier for the wildfires that burned nearby. But because they were in a voluntary evacuation zone this week, they stayed put, Clay Weimer said.

Jeff Bridges' home 'severely damaged' in California mudslides

  Jeff Bridges' home 'severely damaged' in California mudslides The home could be a total loss."Our home has been severely damaged, but we are safe, and so thankful for that and for the first responders who are working tirelessly to save people," he tweeted on Jan. 11. "We are heartbroken over the loss of lives in our community. Your prayers and best wishes are most appreciated.

"Everybody was tired from the fire warnings," Weimer said Friday. "It was a long fire, tough fire, and then everybody kind of relaxed too much."

a woman holding a dog posing for the camera: This January 2017, photo provided by Kelly Weimer, shows Jim Mitchell, 89, with his wife, Alice Mitchell, 78, and their dog, Gigi. The Mitchells and their dog died in the mudslides in Montecito, Calif. (Kelly Weimer via AP) © Kelly Weimer/AP This January 2017, photo provided by Kelly Weimer, shows Jim Mitchell, 89, with his wife, Alice Mitchell, 78, and their dog, Gigi. The Mitchells and their dog died in the mudslides in Montecito, Calif. (Kelly Weimer via AP)

That fire, the largest in California history, had roared across the hillsides above Montecito, leaving sloping patches of earth that were expected to give way in a downpour. When the rivers of water and mud had stopped, dozens of homes were destroyed and hundreds of others damaged. Some of the damaged homes had "boulders or cars or other debris punch through them," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said in an interview Friday.

More than two dozen people were injured, and at least six remained missing Friday, authorities said, though they noted that number is expected to fluctuate. It swelled to 43 missing people a day earlier, but many of those people were found, having been cut off from communication without power or cellphone signal, Brown said.

A week after California mudslides, Trump sends condolences in press statement

  A week after California mudslides, Trump sends condolences in press statement Nearly a week after horrific mudslides hit California's Central Coast and killed at least 20 people, President Donald Trump sent his condolences to those affected in his first public statement on the disaster. The two-sentence statement was released by the White House press secretary on Monday. "The President has been briefed and will continue to monitor the mudslides in California. The President and First Lady extend their deepest sympathies to the families affected, their appreciation for the first responders saving lives, and their prayers for those who remain missing.

"We're hoping against hope that we can find somebody that might be alive," Brown said.

As the search and rescue efforts continued, the stories of grim loss have begun to emerge. Montecito is a small town, so it felt like everyone knew someone lost or seriously impacted by the disaster.

Among those killed was Josephine "Josie" Gower, 69, an "always cheery" regular at the Read 'N Post, a newsstand and gift shop, said Jan Hendrickson, the store's owner. David Cantin, 49, got his hair cut Monday at Montecito Barbers, a small shop in the Coast Village Road center, right before he died in the mudslides.

"He's been coming here since before I started working here," said Cantin's barber, Tim Sanchez, who owns the shop. "My dad used to cut his hair."

Mark Montgomery, 54, a prominent hand surgeon in Santa Barbara, was swept out of his home along with his son Duffy, 19, and daughter Caroline, 22. The siblings were carried downhill in the churn of mud, stone and debris before being separated, said Mark's brother, David Montgomery, who is a Washington Post reporter.

Duffy survived, was treated in the hospital and released with cuts, bruises and a shoulder fracture. Caroline, a high school water polo star and a senior at Barnard College in New York, was killed, her uncle said.

An avid ice hockey player who had skated in a game the night before the mudslides, Mark Montgomery's body was found a day after his children, located about a mile from their home. The father and daughter had shared a love of taking canoe trips on the wilderness lakes and portages of Canada, David Montgomery said.

Some people were prepared to go but decided to stay in their homes, among them a woman and her mother who were trapped by a six-foot wall of mud.

The Weimers likewise opted to stay. Kelly Weimer spoke to her parents on Monday. Alice had gone to the store, and they were planning a small celebration for James's birthday. They were ready to go if they needed to.

"That's the last we heard of them," Clay Weimer said. "We were really sure they were just rescued."

When Clay and Kelly Weimer couldn't reach the Mitchells, they jumped in their car Tuesday and headed south from the Bay Area.

Even after Kelly Weimer learned her parents had been lost in the mudslides, she held out one last hope, her husband said. Her parents had a dog — Gigi, a small white poodle — who had not been found. Gigi was a rescue dog the couple had taken in a year earlier, and the dog followed them everywhere, Clay Weimer said. Maybe the dog was okay.

"That's all she could talk about last night," Weimer said.

More bad news came on Friday morning: Gigi's body had been located.

"I saw the place," Weimer said. "And I don't think Superman would've survived it."

California mudslide victim found, death toll at 21 .
The body of a 28-year-old California woman, missing since savage mudslides hit nearly two weeks ago, was found Saturday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office said.Faviola Benitez Calderon was one of three people still missing after the catastrophe swept away homes and lives in the coastal town of Montecito.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!