Mudslides force California CCRC evacuation

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Casa Dorinda before the mudslides. (Casa Dorinda)
Casa Dorinda before the mudslides. (Casa Dorinda)

A Southern California life plan community was evacuated Thursday due to the Montecito mudslides, caused by hillsides left vulnerable after the Thomas Fire and then rains.

Part of Casa Dorinda was destroyed, according to the Los Angeles Times.

About 25% of the Type A (life care contract) retirement community's property in Santa Barbara sits inside a 100-year-old floodplain, community leaders posted on their website Monday, noting at the time that a voluntary evacuation order was in effect for its area. Not everyone left, however.

Large amounts of mud and debris on the roads around the community made coming and going difficult, the community posted Tuesday. Emergency crews began trying to clear a path so that additional staff members could get to the community.

By Wednesday morning, more staff members had arrived on the campus — some by walking or bicycling — and community leaders gave online assurances that the community had plenty of food and water. Telephones weren't working, however, they said, and backup generators were being used in the personal care and skilled nursing areas. Community leaders advised family members and others to watch Casa Dorinda's website and Facebook page for updates, which were posted at least hourly and usually every half hour, even if the same message was repeated.

By Thursday morning, however, utilities still had not been restored, so the community decided to evacuate. By 6:30 p.m. PST, all residents had been relocated, and staff members were contacting resident families to inform them of their locations. Casa Dorinda has approximately 300 residents and 150 staff members, according to the Los Angeles Times. (Editor's Note: The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office said in a tweet on Friday that it had taken seven hours to evacuate more than 200 residents and more than 50 staff members on Thursday.)

Across the area, the mudslides had killed at least 17 people and destroyed dozens of homes as of Thursday night, according to the media outlet. At least 43 people remained missing.

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