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Highway 101 reopens after being swamped by deadly California mudslides

Mudslide debris cleanup
Mudslide debris cleanup 02:14

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- California officials announced the reopening of Highway 101 on Sunday nearly two weeks after mudslides killed at least 21 people and destroyed nearly 130 homes in Montecito.

Traffic began moving again on U.S. 101 in Santa Barbara County shortly after noon, according to Jim Shivers, spokesman for the California Department of Transportation. Officials had promised a day earlier that the highway would be open again in time for the Monday morning commute.

On Saturday, authorities said Saturday they found the body of a woman who went missing in the mudslides. The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Coroner's Office identified the victim as 28-year-old Faviola Benitez Calderon of Montecito.

Police said two people are still missing, 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa and 17-year-old Jack Cantin.

California Mudslides
In this Wed., Jan. 17, 2018, photo Caltrans workers clear mud from a section of center divider guardrail along the northbound US 101 in Montecito, Calif. AP

Crews worked around the clock clearing drainage areas, stabilizing embankments and repairing guardrails and signs. They also cleaned and swept the highway.

During the U.S. 101 shut down, Amtrak added additional cars to its route between Santa Barbara and points east as travelers increasingly relied on rail service to get around the closure.

With many surface streets also impassable, for a time the only other ground route into the Los Angeles area -- located 90 miles down the coast -- was a series of smaller mountain highways that added more than three hours to the trip.

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