A man says he dug a baby out from four feet of mud after massive mudslides hit Montecito early Tuesday morning.
Berkeley Johnson said he and his wife, Karen, climbed up to their roof at around 3 a.m. after boulders and mud came crashing through their home, sending mud 8 feet up their staircase.
“I heard the rumbling of the rocks and I looked up and the river and the trees were coming down like chum, chum, chum,” Johnson described. “We ran into the house and right then the boulders busted through our house.”
After the flooding receded, the couple said they climbed down and heard a baby crying near their neighbor’s house. The man said he had to dig four feet down to rescue the baby. The baby was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
“We don’t know where it came from but we got it out, got the mud out of its mouth. I hope it’s okay. I’m glad we got it out but who knows what else is out there,” he said.
KSBY has reached out to hospital officials for information on the baby’s condition and will provide an update when that information becomes available.
By Tuesday afternoon, fire officials said at least thirteen people were killed in mudslides and flooding in Santa Barbara County.
Firefighters in Montecito, California, were able to rescue a 14-year-old girl trapped inside her mangled home on Tuesday following a deadly mudslide that claimed the lives of at least five people, according to NBC News.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said that Lauren Cantin was discovered by a team of firefighters and rescue dogs who traced her muffled screams to her house, which had been swept away by floodwaters.
Responders spent six hours in the pounding rain digging Cantin out of her “tangled mess of a house” using the jaws of life and other tools, Eliason said.
— Fabiola Ramirez (@_FabRamirez) January 9, 2018
Other Montecito residents shared their harrowing stories from the disaster. Marco Ferrel said he ran home after he heard rumbling and found four feet of mud counter-high throughout his house.
“It was absolutely terrifying for over an hour, there was just mud raging through my house,” Ferrel said.
Stephanee Jimenez said she was on her way to work with her family around 4 a.m., when she saw the freeway become flooded with water and mud.
“It looked like a river, you were just crossing through a river,” she said.
Jimenez said firefighters told people on the freeway they were expecting more water and to leave their cars and evacuate on foot.
The Office of Emergency Management in Santa Barbara County is planning to cut potable water, gas, electricity and sanitation for the majority of Montecito.
OEM said they are cutting off power after 5 p.m. Tuesday night for safety reasons, in response to the widespread mudslides and flooding in Santa Barbara County.
Approximately 3,500 residents are expected to be impacted by the decision. Officials said it could take several days for gas to be restored to customers, while local agencies determine if service can be safely restored.
The decision to cut power comes at the request of Santa Barbara County Fire, after officials recorded a drop in a natural gas transmission pipeline in Santa Barbara County.
Emergency management officials said a pipeline in Montecito has been broken by mud, debris flow and flooding. They have also received reports of an explosion and fire in Montecito but do not have confirmation about the cause of the explosion.
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.
The scene left Tighe shaken. His voice quivered and he paused several times as he described seeing the body, repeating several times it’s “just so devastating.”
Those killed included Roy Rohter, a former real estate broker who founded St. Augustine Academy, a Catholic K-12 school in Ventura, Headmaster Michael Van Hecke told The Associated Press.
“Roy believed intensely in the power of a Catholic education,” Van Hecke said. “He’s been a deep supporter of the school in every way and a mentor to me personally, to the faculty and to the kids.”
Rohter’s wife, Theresa, was rescued by firefighters from their home and was taken to a hospital with several broken bones, Van Hecke said.
Last month the Rohters were among thousands forced from their home by the wildfire and spent a week living with Van Hecke and his family.