California mudslides: 1250 rescuers searching 'for a miracle'

California mudslides: 1250 rescuers searching 'for a miracle'

Actor Rob Lowe, who also has a home in Montecito, wrote on Twitter he was "mourning the dead in our little town tonight" and previously posting he was under mandatory evacuation.

Santa Barbara County officials chose not to send an emergency alert to cellphones warning of mudslides until destructive flooding had already begun in Montecito, officials said Wednesday.

In updating the missing figure, Brown said that the precise number could fluctuate significantly.

The 18 people killed in mudslides in Southern California this week included children ages 3, 6, 10 and 12.

The fire erupted December 4 in Ventura County, destroying hundreds of homes before it spread into Santa Barbara County and threatened more communities including Montecito.

Searchers had checked most of the debris zone for victims and some were doubling back to leave no stone unturned Thursday when a crew ended up in the backyard of Bill Asher, who lost his palatial home and a similar one he was restoring next door.

As their names and those of 14 other victims were released Thursday, crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people.

"But realistically we suspect that we are going to continue to have discovery of people who were killed in this incident".

Jennifer Ramos says Marilyn Ramos shared the home with her husband, Antonio Benitez, and the family of his brother, Victor Benitez. They said pedestrian and bike traffic in the area was getting in the way of equipment used for clearing the area and rescue efforts.

AMBER ANDERSON: We are doing a thorough search of the area.

Mud swamped a hotel on Coast Village Road.

Billy Grokenberger lives in a part of Montecito that was under a voluntary evacuation order. Her friend Doug Scott told ABC News that Gower and another friend were on the second floor of her home but ventured downstairs when they heard rumbling.

"We had thought about leaving, but we had just had the fires", he said, referring to the recent wildfires that stripped the area of needed vegetation. "We are the lucky ones", he said, shaking his head with the knowledge that a single boulder on a different trajectory could have taken out his home.

On the morning of the storm, Grokenberger watched as 2 to 3 feet of water streamed down the street.

"The house is destroyed, but you know, there's just so many others who are less fortunate". "We've got all those chickens, which means we've got eggs, and they're ideal". Heavy rains were expected, and the loose, fire-charred hillsides above the area would likely wash away, downhill from the Santa Ynez Mountains to the Pacific Ocean with Montecito in between. It wasn't fully contained until this week.

And because of the fire, communities below the scarred terrain could remain at risk of mudslides for years, said Randall Jibson, a research geologist with the US Geological Survey.

They came away shaken after seeing pictures of the flooded Highway 101 and the devastation to downtown Montecito, where they had a veterinary clinic for many years.

"(But) no storm brings down everything that is susceptible. "She was the life of the party, always, and loved us all so fiercely".

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