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LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami) – At least 15 people are dead after a series of devastating mudslides struck Southern California.

Search teams in Southern California continue to reach areas buried in mud and debris after Tuesday’s deadly rains.

“We don’t know how many people are trapped, we know there are some. We are still making our way into certain areas,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

Torrential rains overwhelmed the town of Montecito and surrounding coastal communities, which triggered the devastating mudslides. Helicopters rescued dozens of stranded people. Crews on the ground also searched for victims.

“It looked like a World War I battlefield. It was literally a carpet of mud and debris, everywhere,” said Brown.

“This was way scarier than that, you know. At least with the fires, you could see them coming,” said Montecito resident John Livergood.

Evacuation orders have been issued for communities below the burned out Santa Ynez Mountains. But it’s not clear how many heeded the warning.

“When I saw the evacuations yesterday, I really, I thought, I can’t evacuate again, and I didn’t think it could be this bad,” said Andrea Risdon.

In Burbank, another massive mudslide sent dirt and debris flowing through neighborhood, ruining vehicles and damaging a number of homes.

“The rushing of the mud and water and the power was amazing,” said Heidi Donato.

Donato saw water more than five feet deep rush past her house.

“There was cars washing down, power lines washing down, huge boulders, huge trees coming down,” she said.

Several major roads were buried beneath tons of mud, including the 101 Freeway. It’s the main highway between Ventura and Santa Barbara. It’s now closed until further notice.

Wednesday’s forecast calls for clearer weather in the region. Clean up and recovery is expected to go on for weeks, if not months.

Authorities are working to determine how many of those unaccounted for are actually missing or simply haven’t contacted any friends or family members since the disaster struck.


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