Driver survives as car surfs flooded California road

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They were driving slowly down the steep, curving road through waves of rock-laden, muddy water, when a wave of water crashed into the back of the vehicle.

The video opens on a shot of 700 block of Country Club Drive - a hilly street, buttressed by homes - that looks more like a swift-moving river of sludge.

Desionne Franklin told local news affiliate KTLA that conditions quickly got worse when they began evacuating. "I told my girlfriend, 'Hey, I don't know what's happening, but we've got to get ready to go'". "We've got to get out of here!'" Mr Franklin said.

"What you can't see in that video is the panic inside", Franklin said.

The Prius then hydroplaned down the hill for a short while before Franklin was able to regain control of the auto and make it to safety, the TV station said.

It's hard to wrap your brain around the devastation that has befallen Santa Barbara County in California in the wake of the one-two punch of massive wildfires followed by rainfall that triggered widespread mudslides.

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"Rocks flowing, mud flowing everywhere". A fire there past year has left the steep hills and canyons bare of brush that would help stabilize the soil.

The video emerged as rescuers frantically search for people who went missing after mudslides ravaged parts of Southern California earlier this week. "We have to leave right now'".

Incredibly, the couple made it safely down the hill, with no damage to the Prius, which Franklin admits wasn't his type of vehicle, but thought it would be good for ride sharing.

"One of the cars looked like a wadded up piece of foil paper", he said. The vehicle was mucked up and scratched, but still functions fine.

"I just got pushed down the side of a hill by a wall of water and mud", he can be heard narrating.

On the way, Franklin saw other, mangled cars that had been swept away.

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