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Rescuers continue searching for victims in deadly California Mudslides

Rescuers continue searching for victims in deadly California Mudslides

In this photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Santa Barbara County Fire Search Dog Reilly looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito, Calif. following deadly runoff of mud and debris from heavy rain on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

The National Weather Service sent out four wireless emergency alerts in various areas of Santa Barbara County between 2:30 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, spokeswoman Susan Buchanan said. "I would have preferred for them to leave and in hindsight we should have left".

As rescue crews continued to trudge through the wreckage left by devastating mudslides in Southern California Thursday, some of the 17 dead were identified - including loving grandparents, a retired nurse and the founder of a Catholic school.

"There are 43 people now who may be considered as missing", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Their cause of death was listed as "multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides due to recent wildfire", according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Amber Anderson with the Santa Barbara Incident Management Team said there were about 75 people who called for help for evacuations.

As authorities continue to search for those missing in the deadly Montecito mudslide disaster, officials announced that US 101 would remain closed indefinitely.

"And she would always stop to give cookies or other treats to people at the YMCA", she said.

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"We continue to work down a list of missing people and their addresses and do a much more focused search of that area", Montecito Fire District Deputy Chief Kevin Taylor said during a news briefing Wednesday. Most who had been stranded in their homes have been rescued, he said, including about 300 residents and staff members who were evacuated by rescue workers Thursday from the Casa Dorinda retirement home east of Olive Mill Road. Secondary searches also were to be be conducted in areas that emergency crews accessed earlier in the week.

In some cases, the deluge seemed to split families as well as homes.

"She was in the house and was swept away", said Renee Grub, a friend of Riskin. The exact number of those missing as result of the storm is unknown, but Brown said it could be more than 50.

The flow was so powerful it swept several homes off their foundations, crushed others and wrapped cars around trees. Authorities said her 49-year-old father, David, died and her 16-year-old brother, Jack, is missing. Parts of Highway 101 in the area remained closed, swamped by debris flows that slid down fire-scarred mountains in the area.

A backhoe scooped up mud and rocks around buckled and flattened homes, while bulldozers cleared roads of tangled trees, muck and boulders. "Some of the locals think there's probably bodies in there".

In addition to the dead and injured, 65 houses have been destroyed while another 462 sustained damage.

Perhaps one of the most chilling accounts of the disaster comes from Berkeley Johnson and his wife Karen, who escaped onto the roof of their home in Montecito as mud slammed into the building.

Among dramatic historic examples in the mountains of Southern California, a 1934 storm unleashed runoff so intense that 30 people were killed, more than 480 homes were destroyed and a almost 60-ton (54-metric ton) boulder was pushed out of a canyon.


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