MONTECITO (CBSLA) — Swollen creeks and rain-saturated hillsides caused flooding and mud flows onto Highway 101, causing a freeway closure stretching 30 miles between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Thomas Fire burn areas that had been scorched just weeks ago were in the bullseye of the storm, which reportedly dropped as much as five inches of rain near Ojai.
The flooding and mud flows – which were knee deep in some areas – left several big rigs and cars stranded in the closed portion of the freeway. It also kept many residents from getting in and out of their homes.
One woman, stranded with her three-month-old baby, spoke to CBS2/KCAL9’s Tom Wait.
“I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure where to go,” she said.
“I tried to go pick up my daughter at UC Santa Barbara. I’ve been here for two hours,” another stranded motorist said.
Officials say the stretch of freeway may not be re-opened until Thursday.
Residents in the area said the flooding was believed to be caused by Romero Creek and San Ysidro Creek breaching their banks from the heavy rain that fell overnight. The flood sounded like a freight train, Susan, a 40-year-resident of the area, said.
“It was rattling my doors, it was so loud,” she said. “You could hear the boulders coming down and cracking against each other. It was impressive.”
Two men and a woman were rescued from the flood, and authorities said that multiple rescues were underway in Montecito and Carpinteria, but first responders were hampered by blocked roads and downed trees and power lines.
Thousands were without power, and there are reports of injuries and authorities have confirmed at least 13 fatalities in connection with the mudslides.
At least three homes were ripped from their foundations by the mudslide, while other homes burned due to a gas line explosion. Because of the flooding and mud flows, firefighters were unable to reach those homes to put out the flames.
Road closures include:
Ventura – NB 101 at Highway 126, NB 101 at Seacliff Road
Ojai – Highway 33 from Fairview to Lockwood Valley roads; Matilija Road to Highway 33
Casitas Springs – Nye Road in both directions
La Conchita – Santa Barbara Avenue to surfside Street.
Highway 150 is also closed from Lake Casitas to Carpinteria.
DeAnza Middle School in Ventura will be closed Tuesday, according to the City of Ventura.
Metrolink also reported VC Line 106 to Los Angeles was being held up in East Ventura due to a mudslide between Camarillo and Moorpark.