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Daughter arrives to find her mother, 88, rescued from the mud by Montecito neighbors

Mud and debris surround homes in Montecito on Jan. 10, 2018.
Mud and debris surround homes in Montecito on Jan. 10, 2018.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )

On Wednesday morning, Liana Mortazavi, 49, sat in the frame of the back door of the duplex where her mom has lived for nearly 40 years along Olive Mill Road in Montecito.

She had driven from San Jose on Tuesday night and slogged her way through mud with a childhood friend to reach her 88-year-old mother.

The front door was blocked by a tree, mud and debris. They had pushed up a couch against the front door to keep the mud from seeping in.

When Mortazavi measured the mud surrounding where she’d grown up, she said there was 14½ inches all around the house.

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“It’s impossible for my mom to walk out of here,” she said that morning.

Her mother was one of dozens of people trapped by the Montecito mudslides, which killed at least 17 people and destroyed more than 100 homes.

Since the slide Tuesday morning, rescuers and members of the public have been trying to free those trapped by the mud.

Her mom was rescued from the mire Wednesday morning by her neighbors. She put her arms around their necks and they lifted her together over the mud. She wore her neighbor’s sixth-grade son’s rain boots.

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“What was amazing to me was that the community did come together,” Mortazavi said. “These are neighbors -- I was a classmate with one of them since childhood. It’s amazing how these childhood relationships, they’ll just kick in really fast. There’s this foundation of community.”

Mortazavi and her mom reached San Jose by 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“My mom will stay with us as long as she needs to,” Mortazavi said. “If it’s a long term thing we’ve got a plan.”


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