California mudslides kill at least 15, families left stranded

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(WTVY) - At least 15 people are dead after flash floods and mudslides in California, 20 people are still unaccounted for.

(Image Source: Caltrans District 7 / Twitter / MGN)

Coast guard crews are busy rescuing people who are trapped. Helicopter crews in Santa Barbara make heroic rescues including a family of five.

A member of the helicopter crew said that the first floor of the family's home was filled with 3 to 4 feet of mud.

"It was pretty bad up there. Certain neighborhoods got hit pretty badly, and unfortunately some houses got completely wiped out,” said US Coast Guard Petty Officer Erin Custer. “Thankfully there was a lot of people that got rescued today, and hopefully they continue to pull anyone else out."

The flooding comes just weeks after the Thomas fire burned nearly 280,000 acres in the area, stripping hillsides of vegetation needed to stem water runoff during rainstorms.

Burn areas are more susceptible to flooding because rain bounces off the barren surface instead of being absorbed into the soil.