Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

18 dead, 5 missing in Southern California mudslides


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They waited until 3:50 Tuesday morning to push the alert, which was only about ten minutes before the worst of the flooding started. "We certainly are searching for a miracle right now", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Thursday.

Robert Lewin, director of the emergency management office, knew that couldn't be good. "This is how deep the mud is", she said, sloshing through the muck up to her knees.

FEMA expanded the recently approved Presidential Major Disaster Declaration in the areas affected by the December 2017 wildfires to include damage incurred from flooding and mud and debris flows.

At least 17 people are now confirmed dead in the wake of Tuesday's deadly California mudslides.

Many questions remain about what could have been done to keep people out of harm's way.

There seemed to be a weariness after the fire evacuations.

"And she would always stop to give cookies or other treats to people at the YMCA", she said.

Mark Montgomery was a member of the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital medical staff. Hospital spokeswoman Maria Zate says Montgomery was an orthopedic surgeon with a subspecialty in hand surgery.

They say those tweets were sent days ahead of the storm. This came just weeks after several fires scorched the area.

All of the dead were killed by "multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides", authorities said.

Munroe said such an extreme rainfall rate is usually seen once every 200 years. Brown apologized for the inconvenience, but he called the area "a very active rescue and recovery and fix zone right now".

Santa Barbara County initially ordered 7,000 residents to evacuate and urged 23,000 to do so voluntarily, but only 10 to 15 percent complied, Anderson said.

"Voluntary evacuation doesn't mean you don't have a problem", he said. "We should have heeded the warning". Mudflows traveled through neighborhoods near where Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres have homes. Fire and sheriff's officials hovered over a map spread across the hood of a truck while a fire crew made up of inmates loaded trucks for another day of debris removal. "She was just simply the most loving, cheerful, beautiful, strong, independent force". "It's very thick mud and you're just poking around. It must be hard for them to predict what's going to happen, but it does seem like there's been a huge mistake".

Ms Benitez lived with her sister-in-law, Marilyn Ramos, 27, who was asleep with her daughter, Kaelly, 3, when mud crashed through their Montecito rental home, carrying both to their deaths. Company spokeswoman Erin Lammers said Riskin was a ballerina with the American Ballet Theater in NY before an injury cut short her dancing career. "They were digging in the Montecito Inn and down there in the parking lots yesterday, and I think there may have been some fatalities down there, I don't know. We are the lucky ones", he said, shaking his head with the knowledge that a single boulder on a different trajectory could have taken out his home.

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