Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

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

Gas and electricity supplies were expected to be cut off in the area on Saturday.

"It looked like a World War I battlefield", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday.

Rengers says residents should always listen to evacuation orders because it's impossible to outrun a mudslide.

Officials in Santa Barbara County announced 65 single-family homes were destroyed and almost 450 sustained damage.

However, with most utilities about to be cut off and sewage running into the nearby creek, she chose to heed the order to leave.

Reichlen said he had emergency food supplies and water but no hot food and was trying to figure out a way to get safely out of the canyon. "When those go down, you have to leave". "We certainly are searching for a miracle right now", Brown said Thursday. At least 7 people, including a 2-year-old, remain missing.

Rescue workers in helicopters and high-wheeled military vehicles, some with search dogs, were deployed in the hunt for the missing in a disaster zone littered with the remnants of hundreds of damaged or destroyed homes.

Search and rescue officials located 87-year-old Joseph Francis Bleckel dead inside his residence on Friday. It was the first death discovered since Wednesday.

"If there are people that need to be rescued, we're able to assist in that and if not we're able, then we'll come home safely", said Froelich.

Winfrey posted videos on Instagram showing her wading through almost knee-deep mud on her Montecito property and later inspecting the damage. She says "multiple" residents have been rescued and more are calling for help in Montecito and Carpinteria. "It was literally a carpet of mud and debris everywhere with huge boulders, rocks, downed trees, powerlines, wrecked cars, lots of obstacles and challenges for rescue personnel to get to homes let alone to get people out of them", he said.

Crews are working to clear debris from a key stretch of USA 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Slowly but surely the floodwaters on the 101 Freeway began to recede.

Thousands are without power in and around Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles. There was no estimate on when it would reopen due to the large amounts of mud and debris damage.

But during a later news conference, Brown also announced the recovery of resident John Keating, 53, who only moments before was still categorized as missing. After everything we've been through I think a lot of people thought they were just being overly cautious, but exactly what they feared happened.

The 281,893-acre Thomas Fire, which broke out December 4 in Santa Paula, was brought to 100 percent containment Friday, the U.S. Forest Service said. By the time it was fully contained earlier this week, it had destroyed more than 440 square miles of land and was responsible for the deaths of two people.

Drenching rains that unleashed the deadly torrents managed to finally contain the Thomas Fire, which burned above Montecito and stripped the steep hills of vegetation, making it prone to mudslides.

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