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Flooding causes damage and forces rescues at El Capitan Campground

More than 20 cars destroyed

El Capitan Canyon over run with flood...

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - [UPDATE 6:30 p.m. PST] - Northbound U.S. Highway 101 off-ramp at El Capitan is closed indefinitely, said Gina DePinto with Santa Barbara County.

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A thick mixture of mud, flowing water and debris at a flooded creek near El Capitan Campground swept up several cars and forced multiple cabins off their foundation, trapping several people in cabins and requiring two immediate rescues from first responders, according to Santa Barbara County Fire officials.

At the end of the rescue, twenty-two people were removed from the campground. 

As many as 15 cars have crashed or were trapped in the debris Friday morning. Five cabins at the El Capitan Campground, the majority of them maintenance cabins, came off of their foundations and were swept downstream in the flooding, finally coming to rest at an embankment near Calle Real.

Water rescue personnel used rope cabling to rescue one trapped person from the creek, while another person was able to get out under their own power and was taken to safety. Neither person reported injuries. Twelve people are reportedly still trapped in cabins on the campground.

There are no injuries among those still stuck in their cabins, and they will reportedly need to be walked out by rescuers through the mud and debris.

First responders are still searching the campground and surrounding area for additional campers. The campground has approximately 200 cabins.

The area is closed to the public.

While Santa Barbara County Sheriff/Fire helicopter was flying over the debris area, they spotted a stranded car. Then a woman was spotted yelling for help just above the stuck car.

A firefighter was hoisted down to the woman and pulled her into the helicopter.

She was suffering from Hypothermia and flown to Santa Barbara Airport. Then an ambulance took her to Cottage Hospital for treatment. 

A Red Cross shelter is open at San Marcos High School cafeteria located at 4750 Hollister Avenue.


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