California Mudslides Death Toll Rises To 18, Residents Told To Evacuate

They were soon pulled in different directions.

"Some rescues have been gut-wrenching: firefighters pushed through wait-high mud to reach a 14-year-old girl caked in mud from head to toe", Karson reports.

"I work in L.A. but I consider Montecito my home", she said.

The Sheriff's Office noted that a separate Montecito resident, also named John Keating, was seriously injured during the slides and is in the hospital.

"We'll just be here", Abbe Shaw said as she walked back to their house.

"The only words I can really think of to describe what it looked like was it looked like a World War I battlefield", Brown said.

At least 18 people have died in the Montecito mudslides and seven people were still unaccounted for Friday, as hope waned that any survivors remained amid muck, boulders and toppled trees.

Brown said Thursday that they have a list of 48 missing individuals, some of which are active cases and some are from calls to the Emergency Operations Center and Family Assistance Center. No further details were released about his death.

The sheriff's office listed the names of the missing, who range in age from two to 62, in a statement on Friday night.

Marilyn Ramos was asleep in bed with her three-year-old daughter, Kaelly Benitez, when the deadly mudslide came crashing through their rental home, killing them both. Lauren's 16-year-old brother, Jack, is missing.

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Resident Thomas Tige and his family were forced to the roof of their home after opting not to heed a voluntary evacuation advisory issued for their neighborhood, the AP reported. Survived by her husband, two grown children and a grandson.

"I said, 'We gotta get out of here.' As I turned the vehicle around and I looked in my rear-view mirror, I saw huge boulders the size of my auto rolling on the street behind me, and I went, 'Mother of God, this is like Independence Day, ' so I took off back down to the house", he said.

The mudslides began after heavy rains early Tuesday created rivers of mud and debris that ran down hillsides in Santa Barbara County. "We basically just had to get out and leave the gates open for the fire trucks and we're right in it ... we're right there".

As the rainwater made its way downhill with gathering force, it pried boulders from the ground and picked up trees and other debris that flattened homes, cars and carried at least one body a mile away.

The mudslides notably occurred weeks after the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire within California, struck the state.

According to Santa Barbara City Fire Public Information Officer Amber Anderson, the number of missing persons will likely continue to fluctuate.

Most of the residents of Montecito have evacuated. "There hasn't been a sound definition of what constitutes a missing person".

The number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.

The army of searchers and recovery workers in Montecito swelled to more than 2,000 five days after a powerful storm swept in from the Pacific and dumped a deluge on mountain slopes above the coastal enclave that were burned bare by a huge wildfire in December.

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