California Mudslide Death Toll at 18 as Search for Missing Continues

Death toll from California mudslides rises to 19

A search and rescue team work amid uprooted trees and rocks on mud in Montecito, California on January 12, 2018. Brown apologized for the inconvenience, but he called the area "a very active rescue and recovery and fix zone right now".

Authorities announced Thursday that 73-year-old Peter Fleurat was among those who died in Montecito.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has granted the state's request for expanded federal disaster assistance in response to the devastating mudslides that have impacted Santa Barbara County and the community of Montecito, according to Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Heavy rain on Tuesday, which followed 10 months of drought, sent sticky mud and debris flowing from the hills into Montecito.

The search for additional possible victims is continuing.

"We have a yard to redo and hopefully our insurance will help out with that, but the people across from me, newer homes, gone", Garrett Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years, said.

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"Some rescues have been gut-wrenching: firefighters pushed through wait-high mud to reach a 14-year-old girl caked in mud from head to toe", Karson reports. For example, powerful mudslides wash away entire mountainsides, tragically taking with them homes, other structures and human lives.

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"It was rattling my doors, it was so loud", she said. He searched through debris at her now-destroyed home until receiving confirmation of her death.

The statement says Riskin was an "exceptional woman" who had exuded strength, grace and elegance. Seventeen people were confirmed dead and eight were missing. On Thursday they believed dozens were unaccounted for, but the number was revised down. Their home was destroyed Tuesday in a mudslide.

The number of missing persons has fluctuated since the disaster hit early Tuesday morning and had been as low as 16 on Wednesday evening.

Anderson says the number of personnel searching ravaged neighborhoods has doubled over the past day to 1,250.

Gater tells the Times more than 200,000 emails and other warnings were issued, but the county decided not to use the push alert system to cellphones out of concern that it might not be taken seriously.

Santa Barbara County announced the new evacuation order in a press release at 7:30 p.m. local time Thursday evening.

"They can search everything from a building collapse to a canyon to a mudslide", said Brent Brainard, canine handler.

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