In San Bernardino mountains, residents hit by devastating mudslide fear more to come
Video courtesy of Chris Guttman and Robert Schleuning, USA TODAY
SAN BURTONO, Calif. — When a mudslide devastated a hillside in San Bernardino County this month, two people remained in critical condition with injuries to their arms and legs. Just days later, two more victims were pulled out of the rubble alive.
“We were in complete darkness. All we had was a flashlight,” said Michael Bortz, a former firefighter and now resident of Redlands, a community about 25 miles south of San Bernardino. His wife, Jennifer, remains in critical condition in the hospital.
The mudslide wiped out a mobile home park where 25 families live.
“The people that I just lost, they’re going to get them. It takes a while. It’s a process,” said Bortz, who helped his wife and two children out of the rubble.
The bodies of more women were found Wednesday morning, in the process of being removed from the hillside.
“The last couple of days have been rough,” he said. “It’s difficult enough with two, three and five people all injured. But the real tragedy is that people had been missing for two weeks.”
An estimated 1,700 people have already been left with no place to go, including about 150 residents displaced by the mudslide, according to Redlands Mayor Lori Boone.
“It’s very, very troubling that it had to come to this for everyone in the town,” Boone said. “It’s very, very troubling that the Redlands community has to go through this.”
The disaster has hit one of San Bernardino County’s most economically depressed neighborhoods the hardest,