MONTECITO (CBSLA) — A Montecito woman escaped the mudslides but her ordeal didn’t stop there.
“I felt what I was certain was an earthquake. I felt the ground rumbling just shaking,” said Sandy Toye.
She spoke to CBS2’s Amy Johnson about the mud, water, debris, fire, and chaos of the past few days.
Toye was finally able to evacuate her home but was told to go back where it was safer.
She was home with her three young daughters when the mudslides started. Her husband was out-of-town.
Toye relayed to Johnson the harrowing night- when mud and debris came roaring down from the Thomas Fire burn area.
“I always told the girls to count. Because an earthquake isn’t going to last more than a minute. So I’m counting and I’m counting and counting. And it’s going into a minute.And I’m past 60. And the ground is shaking so much, I’m getting sick, I’m getting nauseous,” Toye recalled.
When the shaking stopped she ran upstairs to check on the kids and was shocked by what she saw.
“So the sky is totally glowing. And we can see flames,” said Toye.
With all the rain. tjere was a large fire and she knew she had to get her daughters out of the house.
“I didn’t even take the birds. I didn’t take the birds or the guinea pigs,” Toye said.
She was in a hurry and on a mission to get her kids all to safety.
“We has no electricity. So I’m climbing on the top of my car. I’m trying to open up the garage door. I get that open and the gates are locked, so I get those open, manually, and it’s pouring rain,” she said.
Once in the car, she thought she was driving to a safer place.
“And I realize,” Toye says, “I’m no longer in control of the car. I’m no longer on the road. My car was in what I thought was the creek.”
The car was finally pushed by mud and water to a little hill and she was able to drive again.
Toye went home — toward the fire. She called her husband and then 911.
“And they said, you must stay in your house,” Toye said. “And I said, but there’s a fire and she said, you must stay in your house.”
She and her kids stayed there for three days — with no power and no internet.
They had no idea how bad the situation really was. But they could see helicopter rescues.
Toye and her kids were rescued Thursday.
‘You don’t know how or why,” she says, “but the gratitude is overwhelming.”
They know not everyone survived.
“Yes and we’re missing one, but I’m hopeful. I’m very hopeful, Toye said.
She and her kids are now staying at a hotel. She says it might be weeks before she’s able to return home.