Death toll from California mudslides rises to 18

"This remains a very active search and rescue mission."In updating the missing figure, Brown said that the precise number could fluctuate significantly".

Destructive flooding and mudslides struck Southern California on Tuesday. But she was exhausted, as were many here after the warnings, the evacuations, the close calls and the worry of recent weeks. A huge police presence keeps out both residents and looters.

"My sister was such a good person, she only thought of others to the point that she would cry with you when you were hurt or sick", Jennifer Ramos said between sobs as she spoke by phone from her home in Mexico. The freeway was closed between Highway 150 and Milpas.

More: 30 square miles. At least two of her family cars were destroyed and she's not sure how her cottage fared. "Crews are working day and night to clear the road ways".

Longtime friend Doug Scott told ABC News that Gower and another friend were on the second floor of her home but ventured downstairs when they heard rumbling.

When crews do manage to get around the boulder fields, they must still fight through the mud and debris. But, he said, "The likelihood is increasing that we'll be finding bodies, not survivors. You have to start accepting the reality of that". Retired Cowboys quarterback and TV analyst Troy Aikman wrote: "Montecito has been a special place for me and my family for many years but it's a place that's been hit hard in recent weeks".

Also killed was Kaelly's 10-year-old cousin, Jonathan Benitez, who was asleep nearby.

The youngest, three-year-old Kailly Benitez, was one of four children killed. None of the adult dead shared their last names. "There's been plenty of cases where they've found people a week after", Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said earlier on a muddy Montecito street especially hard-hit by the mudslide.

Anderson says the number of personnel searching ravaged neighborhoods has doubled over the past day to 1,250.

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The number of people missing since mudslides engulfed a Californian town surged to 48 on Thursday as hundreds of rescue workers slogged through knee-deep ooze and used long poles to probe for bodies.

These before and after images show the extent of the damage in Montecito.

A search and rescue team work amid uprooted trees and rocks on mud in Montecito, California on January 12, 2018.

Well before dawn on Tuesday, a thundering juggernaut of unstoppable mud and debris swept down upon the sleeping community from the Santa Ynez Mountains above them, crushing everything in its path.

Residents in some areas were subject to a new mandatory evacuation on Friday, emergency officials said, adding the unstable environment remained a threat.

It took firefighters hours to dig Lauren out of the mud that destroyed her home. Like many, the couple described hearing explosions during the slide as gas lines ruptured and exploded. The evacuations were ordered because the mudslides threaten the communities beneath the foothills.

Montecito's most famous resident, Oprah Winfrey, offered prayers Tuesday to her neighbors affected by the powerful rainstorm that sent mud and debris flowing through neighborhoods recently under siege by wildfire.

The California Highway Patrol also announced Highway 101 would not reopen Monday as planned.

Montecito may be at slightly less risk now, because this week's flooding already brought downvulnerable material. "What would we have done with the animals?" "We were all bad children and ignored the warning", he said. The mudslides began raindrops on top of hillsides in the Los Padres National Forest and then gained momentum as they tore downhill through the neighborhoods, picking up ash, dirt and debris along the way. "And the house in back is gone". "Now here we are, shovels in hand, trying to get our vehicles out".

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