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Emergency Managers Under Fire Following Deadly California Mudslides

13 January 2018

"The mudslide surrounded my auto as I was driving 60 miles per hour", a driver said.

He likened the scenes in Montecito to the muddy trenches of World War One.

The disaster struck on Tuesday after heavy rains soaked the area near Montecito, north of Los Angeles, where vegetation had been denduded by the largest wildfire in California's history.

About 300 people remained stuck in Montecito's Romero Canyon neighborhood as helicopter-rescue crews continued their search, the LA Times reported.

Officials announced that two more bodies had been recovered Wednesday, bringing the death toll thus far to 17.

In some neighbourhoods still bearing the scars of the Thomas Fire, houses were completely destroyed while others nearby were untouched.

Rebecca Riskin, a 61-year-old retired professional ballerina, founder of Riskin Partners real estate firm and almost 30-year Montecito resident and businesswoman, died in Montecito as a result of the flooding and mudslides in the area, the firm confirmed in a Facebook post and statement.

She stood in mud as she said she was "devastated" by the damage to her neighbour's house. "Per her wishes, we intend to carry out her life's work with the same strength, grace and elegance that wholly defined Rebecca".

Weinert's house was somehow spared but one of his neighbors, Riskin, was swept to her death. Beloved Santa Barbara orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Mark Montgomery and his family were caught in the mudslide. Families were ripped apart, being swept away, with some victims surviving, while some did not.

"There are four juveniles on the list", Brown said.

"Our coroner's office and our forensic unit are working around the clock to make careful identifications to be absolutely positive that we make the right identifications, and to work with and notify the next of kin".

The team was requested by authorities in Santa Barbara County earlier Wednesday, the spokeswoman said. Sawyer Corey and 25-year-old Morgan were initially pronounced missing.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Joseph Bleckel had been on the missing list but still the number of people unaccounted is five.

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Flooding and debris inundate a portion of Highway 101 at Olive Mill Road.

Only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of residents fled when ordered and much of the damage occurred where evacuations were voluntary.

He did not believe, he said Thursday, that there are 43 more dead to be discovered, or even a figure close to that. Elsewhere, intersections and roads are overrun with flood water.

Most of Montecito and parts of Summerland and Carpinteria have been placed in a "public safety exclusion zone", with only residents, responders and the media allowed in.

"There's been plenty of cases where they've found people a week after".

Many of those who survived the flooding and aftermath have been sharing their stories. She was swept away and died.

"I heard rumbling and ran for my life", he said.

Crews used bulldozers to move boulders and fallen trees blocking mud-filled streets. It sounded like cars being dragged. Meanwhile, AS WE SPEAK, her Montecito home's a staging ground for helicopter rescues.

But in the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, where workers were waiting for the predicted deluge, only a few people's phones buzzed with the alert.

During a visit home in September Marilyn Ramos told her family she missed Mexico and hoped to return someday.

Barajas is the owner of The Rose, a popular Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara, and his niece, Angelique Barajas, responded to offers of help from customers by launching a GoFundMe page for him.

A toll-free number for a call center has also been set up at the church, and people can call 833.688.5551 or text 805.699.0165.

Emergency Managers Under Fire Following Deadly California Mudslides