Families frantically search for loved ones missing in Montecito mudslide

Brittny Mejia And Melissa Etehad, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

Cervantes had been out for a drive with his wife and baby when he came to check the shelter. "I just want to find him and make sure he's OK," he said. "I had to check."

Sally Mobraaton, 56, arrived at Santa Barbara City College shortly after 8 p.m. in a frenzy.

The Goleta resident had tried calling 911 and had already been driving around for hours to find her 86-year-old mother, whom firefighters had evacuated from a condo at Montecito Shores earlier that day.

Mobraaton stood outside the evacuation shelter nearly in tears as she spoke with a Red Cross volunteer.

"I'm not sure where she could be," the volunteer said.

Determined to find her ailing mother, Mobraaton hopped back inside her white SUV and decided to head to a Vons on Coast Village Road where the National Guard had been dropping people off.

Along the way she called hotels in Santa Barbara to see if her mother was there, but she had no luck. Despite police roadblocks on the streets, she forged ahead.

About 10 minutes later she pulled into the parking lot at Vons. She glanced around. Still no sign of her mom.

But then she spotted an elderly woman wearing a red raincoat and a white hat.


She breathed a sigh of relief and shouted: "That's my mother!"

With the engine of the car still running, Mobraaten jumped out, ran to her mother and gave her a kiss. "I'm happy I found you, Mom," she said as members of the National Guard helped them put her mother's suitcase inside the car.

Sally's mom, Cynthia Mobraaten, wore a huge smile.

Inside the car, Sally joked with her mom. "I'm so jealous you got to ride in a military vehicle, Mom! I want to hear all about it."

"I bet my butt is still muddy," her mom replied, chuckling. "I didn't let you get your beauty sleep tonight, I guess."

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