Southern California Mudslide Update: Major Coastal Highway Remains Closed; Missing Man Found
A major coastal highway remains closed in Southern California after last week's Montecito mudslide that left at least 20 people dead.
Known locally as the Ventura Freeway, California Highway 101 connects Los Angeles with points north, including Santa Barbara, and is closed for “ongoing rescue/recovery & extensive clean-up/repairs,” the California Department of Transportation said in a tweet Saturday.
Jim Shivers, a spokesman for CalTran, said Monday that the freeway will remain closed for at least another week, with a target reopen date set for Jan. 22, the Associated Press reports.
Twenty people died in the mudslide that hit the small community of Montecito Jan. 9. The slide was triggered when heavy rains inundated the scorched and unprotected hills above the town, sending mud, trees and rock barreling down into the community. The hillsides were burned bare by last month's Thomas fire, the largest wildfire in California history.
Officials in Santa Barbara County reported 65 single-family homes destroyed in the slide, with nearly 450 sustaining some damage, AP reports. At least 28 people were injured.
Meanwhile, a 53-year-old man reported missing in the mudslide was located over the weekend, the Associated Press reports.
John "Jack" Keating, described as a transient, was found in Ventura with his dog Tiny and was not in the Montecito area when the storms and mudslide hit, Santa Barbara County sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said Monday.
Three people remain missing, including 28-year-old Faviola Benitez Calderon, 17-year-old John "Jack" Cantin and 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa, AP reports.