Rescuers return to Bay Area after heartbreaking SoCal mudslide mission

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California National Guard members based at Moffett Field returned from Southern California Thursday night. They spent the past three days rescuing survivors from the mudslides.

RELATED: Mudslides prove their destructive power in Santa Barbara County

It's been a long three days for Senior Airman Ryan Guerra. He and five other members of the 129th rescue wing based at Moffett Field just returned from seeing people in Southern California lose everything.

"It was devastating, you could see basically the mudslide and the effects of the mudslide resulting in cars through second-story windows, roofs that were ripped off homes," Guerra said.

He and his team were in a HH60 Pavehawk helicopter flying above the destruction. The mud was deep, thick, and wet. This forced them to be strategic in finding places to land so they would not get stuck.

VIDEO: What to do if a mudslide hits
EMBED More News Videos

The CDC says landslides and debris flows result in 25 to 50 deaths a year in the United States. Here's what you can do to keep you and your family safe.

Guerra sat looking out the window, surveying the damage and looking for survivors. They spotted dozens and ended up rescuing three.

"There were tears in their eyes, thanking us for at least being out there and trying to sort out what was going on," Guerra added.

It was challenging, and at times Guerra described the scene as a mass confusion. But he and his team stayed focused.

"I just think that could have been our family down there," said Guerra. "It gets to you a little bit. But you can't let it get to you. You're here to do a job and they're relying on you to do that mission."

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on the mudslides.
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.