Death toll rises to 19 in California mudslides, 5 still missing

Emergency Ferry Operations Available

"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.

Excavators carrying rescuers in their buckets ploughed through mud-coated roads in search of the missing after some areas were buried in as much as 4.6m of mud.

Speaking on Thursday, he said: "Realistically we suspect we are going to have the discovery of more people killed in this incident".

"We need that number to effectively meet our objectives", Anderson said.

The immediate areas where people were killed are under mandatory evacuation, and officials increased the size of the evacuation zone Thursday.

"This entire area is a very active rescue and recovery and fix zone right now", he said. They include a couple who fell in love with their Montecito community, a family of Mexican immigrants and a college student and her dad, a doctor.

Rescue workers are using helicopters and all-terrain vehicles in a search hampered by blocked roads and downed trees and power lines.

An evacuation order has been extended and people are being warned that those staying behind may hinder the rescue operation.

Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney said the likelihood is increasing that rescue crews will be finding bodies instead of survivors at this point.

On the morning of the storm, Grokenberger watched as 2 to 3 feet of water streamed down the street.

"Where do you go when you're a family of four and you don't have a second house?"

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"The house is destroyed, but you know, there's just so many others who are less fortunate". "To get people here takes time and we're finally getting that request for influx".

In one of the hardest hit areas, a silver Mercedes-Benz, its front and rear fenders completely destroyed, sat atop a tree stump, the only thing left where a home once Saturday.

The fires burned most vegetation, leaving flawless conditions for the latest disaster to unfold.

Some residents of Santa Barbara County say the biggest wildfire in the state's history and the deadly mudslides have dampened their California dreams. It wasn't fully contained until this week.

Residents of the mudslide-hit area were assessing their damaged homes, with some grateful their properties had survived.

"(But) no storm brings down everything that is susceptible.

Before the news conference had ended, Brown returned to the microphone, and with a happy tone said a phone call had just come in about Keating.

What can be done?

Short term, making the public ready to evacuate during heavy rains is key, he said.

The victims' ages ranged from 3 to 89 and the cause of death for all was "multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides due to recent wildfire", according to the sheriff's office.


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