SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Army Corps of Engineers Lt. General Todd Semonite toured the Montecito mudslide area Thursday afternoon.
The general toured some of the hardest hit areas, watching as hundreds of crews work around the clock to clear mountains of rock and debris.
"I feel sorry for the people of California, this is a tough deal," General Semonite told a crowd of reporters at a Thursday afternoon press conference. "I think you have to be here to understand it, what people are going through. I sympathize with the people of this region."
The Army Corps of Engineers main objective is to clear the dozen water basins in the area where all of the mud and debris is sitting. Jackhammers are being used to cut down 20-foot boulders, weighing hundreds of tons. Cleanup crews are working on 12-hour shifts until the area is clear.
"We're loading out trucks every 90 seconds," said Cold Spring Basin supervisor Rob Owen. "We're working hard and fast and making sure it's done right."
General Semonite believes officials are learning how to better prepare the public in emergency situations.
"The rapidity of this flash flood, just how fast it happened, your response system has to be even more important now," said Semonite. "We have to get to these people and tell them sometimes they only have minutes to react."
More than 500 trucks a day are moving in and out of the Montecito mudslide area.