California mudslides: Oprah, Ellen put spotlight on horrors of Southern California disasters

A member of the Long Beach Search and Rescue team looks for survivors in a car in Montecito

Some restricted areas remain closed in the Montecito area where rescue and cleanup efforts are ongoing.

He said some 12,000 daily commuters drive into Santa Barbara from the south, a route now blocked.

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

The search for additional possible victims is continuing.

Forty-three people were missing, but many or majority may simply have been unreachable to the family and friends who reported they couldn't find them, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Once inside the house, Farrell starts walking around securing the home, and ordering his 71-year-old mom Gabrielle to wake up his dad, 81-year-old Olympian Jeff Farrell. "I'm standing right now still in a lot of mud but not as much as yesterday", she said.

It was another hard turn for those living in the Southern California town that has been subject to repeated evacuation orders in recent weeks, first because of a monster wildfire last month, then because of downpours and mudslides. Rebecca Riskin, a real estate agent and founder of Riskin Partners, was also killed in the mudslides in Montecito, the company confirmed in a post on its Facebook page Wednesday.

The statement says Riskin was an "exceptional woman" who had exuded strength, grace and elegance.

"It's not just a wealthy community", DeGeneres said.

As the names of the 17 California mudslide victims were released Thursday (local time), crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people.

On Thursday, the number provided by authorities went from 48, down to eight, then back up to 43.

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The number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.

Lauren Cantin was coated head to foot in mud, was led by firefighters from a pile of wood and debris that was once a house on Tuesday, a photo from Santa Barbara County Fire Department showed.

"Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown described the devastation this way: 'It looked like a World War I battlefield".

While this list often fluctuates as new information is obtained, here is a current list of people reported missing that are considered active investigations.

Debris flows pose a significant threat when rain falls in the aftermath of wildfires such as the inferno that scorched more than 440 square miles (1,140 square kilometres) in two Southern California counties last month and destroyed and damaged hundreds of homes and other structures.

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.

Numerous deaths and injuries occurred at locations that were not under mandatory evacuation for flooding, but weeks earlier, said areas were evacuated during a series of fires.

"The mud was unleashed in the dead of night by flash flooding in the steep, fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains".

Today, residents of Montecito, Calif., are being told to evacuate as emergency crews turn off gas and power to continue to clear mud and debris.

All of those killed died of "multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides", according to the Santa Barbara County Coroner's Office.



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