More than 40 People Remain Missing after the Mudslides in California

Phillip Harnsberger crosses through mud from a flooded creek on Sheffield Drive in Montecito Calif

The searchers are using all-terrain vehicles and helicopters, but downed power lines and blocked roads are complicating their efforts. In the Romero Canyon area above Montecito, scores have been marooned since Tuesday morning.

At least 17 people have died and eight are still missing. They then issued a county-wide alert at 3:51 a.m., when the debris flow was already starting.

Mark Montgomery, 54, a doctor at Associated Hand Surgeons, was at home with his wife and two children when they were caught in the mudslide, a family friend told to KSBY.

In addition to the dead and injured, 65 houses have been destroyed while another 462 sustained damage. Next to some of the devastated areas sat large estates untouched by the torrent, their lawns still green and the landscaping lush.

Most deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, Santa Barbara County spokesman David Villalobos said.

"Load up the auto, get the dogs, we're out of here", the 58-year-old shopping centre developer says he told his wife. "They weren't concerned", Weimer said.

Helen Murdoch, a resident of Santa Barbara, described the damage done by the mudslides this way: "I would say it's apocalyptic". His body was found a day after his children were recovered, about a mile from their home. "But nothing remains of their house".

Cordero and her husband got their son, 9, daughter, 3, and 7-week-old son into the attic.

Some of the searches had happy endings.

Almost in tears, Mobraaten spoke with a Red Cross volunteer outside the shelter.

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"She lived next to a creek", Haigh, her son-in-law, said.

Well before dawn on Tuesday, a thundering juggernaut of unstoppable mud and debris swept down upon the sleeping community from the Santa Ynez Mountains above them, crushing everything in its path.

Residents lucky enough to be spared reported hearing rumblings just before the onslaught that sounded like an quake but were actually the sound of a deadly, roaring curtain of mud and debris descending upon them powerful enough to propel massive boulders the size of trucks along with it.

"My sister was such a good person, she only thought of others to the point that she would cry with you when you were hurt or sick", Jennifer Ramos said between sobs Friday as she spoke by phone from her home in Mexico. Burned-over zones are especially susceptible to destructive mudslides because scorched earth doesn't absorb water well and the land is easily eroded when there are no shrubs.

"Our home has been severely damaged, but we are safe, and so thankful for that and for the first responders who are working tirelessly to save people", Bridges wrote on Twitter. Ground crews were also making slight progress in clearing roadways leading toward Highway 192 and the Birnam Wood Golf Club, which were only accessible by air on Tuesday, authorities said. The fire started more than a month ago. But some residents said the exhaustion of being chased from their homes made them hesitant to evacuate a second time.

Munroe said such an extreme rainfall rate is usually seen once every 200 years. "Thank you so much because if it wasn't for you, we wouldn't be here", she said. "We should have heeded the warning".

Riskin Partners spokeswoman Erin Lammers said Riskin was a member of the American Ballet Theater in NY before an injury cut short her dancing career.

Feil had to evacuate during the Thomas fire and said she was anxious that survivors who managed to get through the wildfire unscathed may have lost everything they own in Tuesday's debris flows.

The post included video of her trudging through the debris, before she pans up to show that the "house in the back is gone". She moved to Montecito in the early 1990s.

The luxury real estate agency called her loss "incredibly devastating" and said Riskin was an exceptional woman.

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