Death toll from California mudslides climbs to 18

The vicious mudflows that raced through the Southern California town of Montecito early Tuesday were swift and ruthless.

A large boulder rests near destroyed homes along San Ysidro Creek near East Valley Road in Montecito, Calif., Jan. 10, 2018. "Thank you to all the search and rescue teams, firefighters, and everyone helping".

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

"We've gotten multiple reports of rescuers falling through manholes that were covered with mud, swimming pools that were covered up with mud", said Anthony Buzzerio, a Los Angeles County fire battalion chief.

In another home, a man had just enough time to shout to his partner to grab onto something and try to save himself before the two were swept away by the mud that crashed through the walls of their home.

The number of missing persons has fluctuated since the disaster hit early Tuesday morning and had been as low as 16 on Wednesday evening. But because they were in a voluntary evacuation zone this week, they stayed, Clay Weimer said. "And I don't think Superman would've survived it".

"I don't know how far she could have been swept, I don't know". His body was found a day after his children were recovered, about a mile from their home. But the other child is still missing. "We will push for every available resource to help Californians recover from these tragedies", Brown said in a statement Thursday. "But nothing remains of their house".

Hayden Gower is still searching for his mother.

"It's just incredible. Seeing pictures doesn't do it justice", she said of the downed trees, flattened houses and muddy streets. She was taken away on a stretcher.

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

Mud and debris near businesses on Coast Village Road.

"What a day! Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara".

More: 30 square miles. Residents will not be allowed to return to their homes while the evacuation order is lifted, which may not happen for one or two weeks, officials said.

As the search and rescue efforts continued, stories of grim loss have begun to emerge. "Helicopters rescued some people who climbed onto the roofs of their homes to escape the torrent of water, and mud".

After the Thomas fire, the U.S. Geological Survey studied the burn area to determine its vulnerability for flash floods, mudslides and debris flows.

"That's the last we heard of them", Clay Weimer said.

Jen Guilbeault said she made a decision to stay in her home on Ortega Ridge Road because it, too, was in a voluntary evacuation zone.

Cradduck has lived in his home for 34 years and said he's never seen anything like this. "Thank you so much because if it wasn't for you, we wouldn't be here", she said. "If we felt they did not have a problem, we would not have issued a warning at all".

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. Flash floods there on Tuesday swept vast amounts of mud, water and debris down from foothills that were stripped of brush by the recent Thomas wildfire.

"A bundle of fun", her daughter-in-law said. "And the house in back is gone". She moved to Montecito in the early 1990s.

"It was a woman's body", she said.