Published: Mon, January 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

California Mudslide Death Toll at 18 as Search for Missing Continues

California Mudslide Death Toll at 18 as Search for Missing Continues

"Oh Lord, I am praying for the sweet town of Montecito". "It's like we're on an island".

The number of people missing has decreased to four, Santa Barbara County reported on Sunday. At least 28 people were wounded in the storm, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Ellen said as predicted by the authorities, the rain caused heavy mudslides in Montecito. More than 1,500 personnel were assigned to search-and-rescue and cleanup efforts in the area, which spanned about 30 square miles. They were supported by K-9 units, 10 helicopters and six bulldozers.

Officials had no estimate on how many people could be trapped or how many homes were damaged.

Between Ventura and Carpinteria, a 30-mile stretch of USA 101 remained closed in both directions Thursday because of flooding and mud on the roadway. The closure was expected to last until Monday, but after reassessing the damage Friday afternoon, authorities could no longer provide a timeline for when the highway would reopen. Sometimes, the dispatcher will just have him wait at a truck stop until the road is clear and he's able to travel again, he said. You talk to one cop, you get one piece of information, you talk to another, and you get another piece.

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Firefighters now say only five people are still missing following Tuesday's mudslide in Montecito. Ground usually held together by tree roots and smaller plants was suddenly just a mass of mud and boulders which residents describe as sounding like a freight train.

But Monroe said it was stressful after evacuating three times during the wildfire to be packing up a fourth time.

Marc Phillips realized he should have listened to emergency officials as he trudged down East Valley Road in mud-soaked jeans.

Even those who didn't lose their homes were told to leave for up to two weeks so they wouldn't interfere with the rescue and recovery operation. "To get people here takes time and we're finally getting that request for influx".

In one of the hardest hit areas, a silver Mercedes-Benz, its front and rear fenders completely destroyed, sat atop a tree stump, the only thing left where a home once Saturday. Only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of residents fled their homes when ordered, and much of the damage occurred where evacuation orders were voluntary.

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The wall of water and mud that roars down a hillside quickly gains sufficient power to sweep up the rocks and boulders that could have potentially obstructed its downward path.

In Montecito, some residents said they had shrugged off dire warnings about the rainstorm before waking up to the morning mess.

With the help of highly trained search dogs, these teams are walking in knee high mud and trying to avoid the many dangers that hide below. After everything we've been through I think a lot of people thought they were just being overly cautious, but exactly what they feared happened.

The response to the LA floods and mudslides is in the early stage and it is still considered an active situation. But what they saw, what they experienced, as they stood there, in the most very bad of environments, was heroic to me.

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