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Search continues for woman missing after Hilary hit California

Search and rescue crews are trying to find a missing elderly woman in the San Bernardino mountains.
Search continues for woman missing after Hilary hit California
Posted at 5:14 PM, Aug 23, 2023

Crews in California are continuing to successfully find and rescue residents in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary, but there's one missing resident who's pushing crews to search a little harder.

That resident is Christie Rockwood, a 75-year-old retired school district accountant who hasn't been heard from since the storm first hit Sunday evening.

Rockwood had lived in and owned a trailer home in the mountains of the San Bernardino National National Forest for several decades. Her daughter told The New York Times she had moved into the trailer full time about 10 years ago and became known as a local fixture in the idyllic Seven Oaks community.

But the community and her family still hasn't heard from her since she spoke to a friend by phone Sunday evening, and no one's seen her trailer since.

Though most of southern California avoided significant damage, the area Rockwood's trailer was in was one of the mountain and desert regions that now has to deal with a lasting impact.

SEE MORE: Drone footage shows historic flood damage in California desert

Hilary blanketed the area with inches of rain, which caused the nearby Santa Ana River to overflow and triggered destructive mud and debris flows. These washed out the road into Seven Oaks, completely stranding some 30 people there, and had closed off road access to about 700 people in the Forest Falls area, which is about 17 miles south of Seven Oaks. Public crews were able to open up a route for these residents by Tuesday.

Residents who were left behind or were unaware of Seven Oaks' evacuation order, which remains in place, were evacuated via helicopter, with around 20 people rescued from the mountains on Tuesday alone. 

Despite the order, some residents declined the rescue to wait out the aftermath, though authorities have said it could be as long as a year before most residents are able to return to their homes.

As for Rockwood, her family isn't yet giving up as search and rescue efforts continue, but they do worry about her condition.

“I'm trying to hold out hope, but it's really hard," Rockwood's daughter Tracey Monteverde told The New York Times. "I just can't imagine her being out there with no food and water, probably injured."

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