Death toll from California mudslides rises to 18

Santa Barbara County Fire Search Dog Reilly looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito

Montecito is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the sprawling Los Padres National Forest and canyons from the nearby mountains channelled the torrents of mud, rock and debris towards residential areas.

"Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was another Montecito resident impacted by the storm".

"We totally thought we were out of the woods", said Jennifer Markham, whose home escaped damage in both disasters.

"This is a constantly changing list", Brown said during a news conference. Emergency crews continued Thursday to rescue residents, at times by helicopter, from some of Montecito's still-impassable neighborhoods.

The Thomas Fire - the largest wildfire in California's recorded history -burned more than 281,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from early December into this month.

The Thomas Fire, in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, is 92 percent contained and has burned over 280,000 acres and destroyed almost 1,000 structures, leading to unsafe mud and debris flows following recent heavy rains. Authorities have named other victims that were killed: David Cantin, 49; Peter Fleurat, 73; Josephine Gower, 69; John McManigal, 61; Alice Mitchell, 78; James Mitchell, 89; Mark Montgomery, 22; Marilyn Ramos, 27; Rebecca Riskin, 61; Roy Rohter, 84, Richard Taylor, 67 and 6-year-old Peerawat Suthhithepn.

"This is the street in front of our house", she said. Robert Riskin and a friend searched for his mother. Families were ripped apart, being swept away, with some victims surviving, while some did not. The reason: Amy is pregnant with the couple's second child, and her due date is less than a week away. "Direct Relief is committed for as long as it takes to help the Santa Barbara and Montecito community recover from these tragic events".

The mudslide killed at least 17 people and destroyed scores of homes.

A dozen people were hospitalized at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and four were in critical condition, Dr. Brett Wilson said.

The Coroner's Office has been working around the clock to identify victims and notify relatives, Brown said, an effort that was bolstered Wednesday by the arrival of personnel from the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. At least eight people are considered still missing. Seventeen people were reported missing.

"Realistically we suspect we are going to have the discovery of more people killed in this incident", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Over a 100 homes have been destroyed and around 300 damaged after walls of mud poured through affluent communities along a stretch of Southern California coastline.

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Her husband did much for Catholic causes, Van Hecke said.

Handout. / Reuters A man is rescued from flood waters and debris in Montecito. "They're finding people and bodies and I mean, you hear the word mudslide and you have no idea the impact that it has".

Many of those who survived the flooding and aftermath have been sharing their stories.

Cathy Atkinson, 71, said she had been receiving updates on the situation through daily phone calls from her daughter, who lives in Geneva.

The deadly rain came overnight Tuesday, dropping 1 inch in just 15 minutes and by daybreak, it looked like a war zone.

"We had just checked like half an hour earlier to see if there was any water here and there was hardly nothing, and I figured we had time", she told Noozhawk Wednesday.

"I should have evacuated", she said.

A semi-tractor trailer sits stuck in mud on U.S. Highway 101, in Montecito.

"We rebuilt our house, and when we rebuilt it we built it 3 feet higher because we knew we were in a flood plain", she said.

Rescuers are continuing their search operations, with the missing now numbering seven, including a two-year-old girl, according to the Santa Barbara sheriff's office.

They brought each family member up to the roof, dogs too, and hoisted them up to safety.

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