California mudslide casualties increase to 18

California mudslide casualties increase to 18

Marilyn Ramos was asleep in bed with her 3-year-old daughter, Kaelly Benitez, when the deadly mudslide came crashing through their Montecito rental home, carrying both to their deaths.

"Auto and pedestrian traffic in the exclusionary zone has reached a point that it is seriously impacting the ability of search and rescue, public works, other first responders and fix crews to clear roadways and to engage in search and rescue, fix and damage-assessment operations", he said.

Rescue efforts are ongoing in Santa Barbara County in California, with search teams looking for people who were caught by massive mudslides that swamped houses and trapped cars on Tuesday.

The steepness of the slopes above Montecito added to the speed of the flows, which killed at least 17 people and destroyed at least 100 homes.

The youngest victim, Kailley Benitez, three, died alongside her mother and 10-year-old cousin.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson says the number of personnel searching ravaged neighborhoods has doubled over the past day to 1,250. Officials said a clerical mistake led to the figure of 48 being released.

"We know that this a terribly inconvenient development, but it is also incredibly necessary", Brown said. "It continues as a search-and-rescue mission".

The searchers are using all-terrain vehicles and helicopters, but downed power lines and blocked roads are complicating their efforts.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned here, and I sure hope that officials in these disaster zones do more that politically posture about global warming instead of trying to develop infrastructure and response plans that will prevent another 17 deaths next fire season. "To get people here takes time and we're finally getting that request for influx".

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

"There are four juveniles on the list", he said.

Luckily, Farrell and his parents got out of the flood alive.

Two of the victims were killed when their houses were swept away in the mudslides.

Santa Barbara County crews worked through the holidays to defend coastal communities from the second half of Southern California's familiar cycle of fire and flood. It wasn't fully contained until this week.

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.

"This is an enormous loss for our community", the hospital said in a statement.

Montecito may be at slightly less risk now, because this week's flooding already brought down vulnerable material. "What goes up must come down", West said.

What can be done?

Many residents chose to stay.

"Seemed like just heavy rain", he said.

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