California Mudslide Death Toll at 18 as Search for Missing Continues

Mudslide victims School founder real estate broker remembered

As the search-and-rescue effort unfolded, sheriff's officials declined to publicly release details about the dead - in part an acknowledgement that the toll could mount higher - as they whittled down the number of missing people.

Downtown, a quaint stretch of cafes and galleries normally bustling with tourists and locals was a staging area for firetrucks and heavy equipment.

Sodden hillsides gave way, unleashing a torrent of mud, water, uprooted trees and boulders onto the valley below and causing what the police described as "traumatic injuries" to the victims, who ranged in age from 3 to 89. Groups were supported by K-9 units, helicopters and bulldozers.

After a better look at the damage, officials lowered the number of destroyed homes from 100 to 64 and raised the number of damaged ones from 300 to 446.

"Sunday night, Portia and I got a call that we're under mandatory evacuation again with most of the community of Montecito", she said during her show.

U.S. Highway 101 at the Olive Mill Road overpass is flooded with runoff water from Montecito Creek in Montecito.

The California Department of Transportation abandoned hopes of reopening the highway on Monday and said it was not known when the closure would be lifted. Fallen power lines crisscrossed a neighbor's yard, and trees lay like knocked-over bowling pins.


Now, three days in to a mandatory evacuation order they chose to ignore, the Shaws said they're determined to ride out what could be a multi-week closure.

Residents of the area received multiple warnings of possible flash floods on social media and by email, however only an estimated 10-15% of residents evacuated prior to the worst of the storm.

But county emergency manager Jeff Gater said officials decided not to use the cellphone push alert system until 3:50 a.m. Tuesday out of concern it might not be taken seriously. "It was activated at the appropriate time actually when the event was occurring", Brown said.

Resident Thomas Tige and his family were forced to the roof of their home after opting not to heed a voluntary evacuation advisory issued for their neighborhood, the AP reported. The sheriff asked that the public "keep this devastated family in your thoughts and prayers" and said there would be a candle light vigil on Sunday "to remember and honor" the victims.

"By the time I got to my house 30 seconds later there was a river of mud all over everything".

The deadly mudslides that ravaged the town came a month after a massive wildfire drove many residents from their homes and blackened the nearby mountains. "I should have just told her to leave".

These conditions can make it hard - and often risky - for first responders to get to affected areas and provide relief for residents. Then she added, with a laugh, "that's very unlike me". "We're affected here in Carpinteria in the sense that we're taking these people in and a lot of people are out of work because they can't travel".

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