The force of the mudslides was so massive that it destroyed homes, uprooted trees and washed away dozens of cars.
Hundreds of first responders in Santa Barbara County waded through waist-high mud while others flew over the devastation searching for survivors. As of Wednesday, 13 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured.
In Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara, residents walked on streets blanketed by mud trying to understand the devastation left in the wealthy hillside enclave.
"No one could have guessed this," Diane Brewer said. "I'm wondering if my friends are alive."
Muddy, debris-filled water flooded several roads, leaving the region at a standstill.
The amount of debris was so massive that a stretch of 30 miles of the 101 Freeway between Montecito and Santa Barbara, is expected to remain closed for at least 48 hours, said Capt. Cindy Pontes with the California Highway Patrol.
The mud came in an instant, pounding and even crashing through the walls of many homes.
Ben Hyatt said his Montecito home was surrounded by 2-3 feet of mud, and a washing machine had drifted into his front yard.
As the mud receded, a dark stain covering halfway up the front windows of a home in Montecito served as a reminder of the havoc caused by the heavy rain and flooding.
Homeowners and first responders were searching for at least two dozen people who were unaccounted for as Tuesday afternoon.
Among those looking for survivors were Riley, a search dog with the Santa Barbara County Fire, and his handler Eric Gray.
The yellow Labrador Retriever was deployed to Japan during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and traveled to Nepal after the deadly earthquake in 2015, according to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Most recently, the pair traveled to Puerto Rico to search for people still trapped in the rubble in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, CNN affiliate KEYT reported.
After hours trapped in the rubble, a 14-year-old girl was rescued from a home in Montecito that was destroyed by the heavy rains.
The girl, coated head to foot in mud, was led by firefighters from the pile of wood and debris, a photo from the county fire department shows.
Dozens were trapped in cars and buildings. At least 50 people were airlifted to safety on Tuesday in emergency helicopters, according to Kevin Taylor of the Montecito Fire Department.
Video footage shows how rescuers saved driver whose car was swept away by the mudflow during the rainstorm.
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