Some hotels were even encouraging patrons from their largest market -- the Los Angeles area -- not to attempt the trip, which currently requires detours of up to 10 hours. Cancellations had become routine as word spread of the closure and some businesses and supermarkets had either reduced or halted restocking of inventories because they were not needed.
One of the region's most famous resorts, San Ysidro Ranch north of Montecito, sustained extensive damage in the mudslides, McElroy said Saturday. The luxury hotel, which has counted Audrey Hepburn, Winston Churchill and honeymooners John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy as guests, is edged by a creek that became a torrent of boulders, toppled trees and muck.
Contractors and crews using earthmovers and dump trucks were streaming into the property Saturday morning. Elroy said many key structures on the property remained standing.
Around noon Saturday, more than four dozen Los Angeles County firefighters armed with shovels, pickaxes, chain saws and heavy-duty dumpsters descended on a debris-strewn location in the heart of the ranch property on a special mission: to rescue one of the oldest and most important adobe structures in Southern California.
The San Ysidro Adobe was inundated with water and mud the consistency of peanut butter. A bronze plaque on the devastated low-slung building said it was "built in 1825, and from 1868 to 1878."
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