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

When she rang Oprah, the iconic TV star said that her 65-acre estate, called Promised Land, had suffered damage - but nothing compared to other homes. "The confirmation of her loss is incredibly devastating to her friends, family, and our community". Some neighbors did the same, tired too, and wondering if the rains could really be as unsafe as the historic fire they had just escaped.

Seventeen people have died in the mudslides, and another 17 were unaccounted for, authorities said. "When those go down, you have to leave". Most of those fire responders were sent home December 23.

Brown released the names of 17 people killed in the mudslide Thursday, including the youngest victim 3-year-old Kailly Benitez. The dead, which include four children, were all from Montecito.

"The missing persons were reported by family and friends, and resided in areas that were heavily damaged during the storm and subsequent mudslides". Theresa was rescued and hospitalized in stable condition.

Montecito is best known as a getaway for the rich and famous - the median home price among current listings is more than 4 million dollars (£2.9m) - although there are also working families living in modest houses and apartments.

A wet last winter gave way to a dry summer here and in many parts of California. "There's been plenty of cases where they've found people a week after", Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.

Monday, emergency officials again told residents of much of Montecito to leave. Heavy rains caused rivers of mud and debris to run down from hillsides, creating the mudslides in Santa Barbara County.

"We had thought about leaving, but we had just had the fires", he said, referring to the recent wildfires that stripped the area of needed vegetation.

California Fire spokesman Brad Bihun says, "Right now we still are in a rescue mode so we don't know what is out there". "The whole house shook". Dozens of homes were swept away during the storm, .

Now, we're hearing from that family as they share a message for the fearless group that saved them.

Unable to drive, they have been confined to their neighborhood ever since, most of the time without power or water.

"Water is very powerful", said Amber Anderson, a spokeswoman for Santa Barbara County.

Montecito and Carpinteria are especially vulnerable to mudslides because the steep terrain in some places goes from thousands of feet above sea level to sea level in just a few miles, said Tom Fayram, a deputy public works director with Santa Barbara County.

"It's just waiting and not knowing, and the more I haven't heard from them - we have to find them", Kelly Weimer, whose elderly parents remain missing, told the Associated Press.

"The big hit", he said, "is people can't get up here from L.A".

Three days after evacuating, the couple had no idea if their house was still standing.

"It's a true unknown", he said.

The immediate areas where people were killed are under mandatory evacuation, and officials increased the size of the evacuation zone Thursday.

"Had we not gone over there, I don't think that kid would have [survived]", he added.

She then FaceTimed Oprah, who also resides in Montecito and remains there. Bags were packed, the vehicle was full of fuel.

But when the earth began to move, it was too late.

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