Caltrans: Hwy. 101 will remain closed indefinitely

California mudslide rescuers 'hoping for a miracle' amid fears death toll could hit 57

The roof of a structure damaged from storms sits over mud and rocks in Montecito, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.

A member of the Long Beach Search and Rescue team looks for survivors in a vehicle in Montecito.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office this week identified the 18 killed, citing the cause of death as multiple traumatic injuries resulting from flash floods with mudslides.

Heavy rain and a "deep rumbling" sound preceded the massive amounts of mud that blanketed miles and killed at least 17 people.

The search for additional possible victims is continuing.

Anxious family members awaited word on loved ones Wednesday as rescue crews searched grimy debris and ruins for more than a dozen people missing after mudslides in Southern California destroyed an estimated 100 houses, swept cars to the beach and left at least 17 victims dead.

NeoTract, a maker of devices used in the medical field of urology, has launched a fundraising page asking for financial support for the family of Kim Cantin. She survived. Jack, her 16-year-old brother, is missing.

First there were record-breaking fires, then rain and flooding, and now the tight-knit California community is reeling from mudslides that further ravaged their homes.

"I told her to stay on the second floor, but she went downstairs and opened the door and just got swept away", her son, Hayden Gower, told NBC affiliate KSBY. "I'm standing right now still in a lot of mud but not as much as yesterday", she said.

But the main artery connecting the Central Coast with Southern California will remain closed indefinitely, as Caltrans rescinded its estimated Monday reopening for Highway 101, which has been shut down since the mudslides.

Riskin Partners described its founder as a renowned businesswoman whose "knowledge, strength and work ethic were eclipsed only by her unending grace, warmth and kindness". Her company confirmed her death in a statement posted Wednesday night, January 10, 2018, on Facebook.

The statement says Riskin was an "exceptional woman" who had exuded strength, grace and elegance.

She said: "It's not just a wealthy community, it's filled with a lot of different types of people from all backgrounds".

The hard search goes on in Montecito, California, five days after storm-spawned mudslides roared down from fire-stripped hillsides and smashed through dozens of homes, killing at least 18 people and leaving others missing.

A auto sits in mud and debris after a mudslide on in Montecito, California.

Sheriff Bill Brown cautioned Thursday that many or most of those unaccounted for may simply have been unreachable to the family and friends who reported them missing.

County emergency manager Jeff Gater tells the Los Angeles Times that the alert issued around 3:50 a.m. Tuesday was sent because of deteriorating conditions and followed one issued by the National Weather Service.

Winfrey wasn't under a mandatory evacuation order because her house is higher up on a hill, but she has been using social media to show just how bad the scenes were in Montecito this week.

Ken Oplinger, who heads the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, said the combination of the wildfire and the mudslide could doom some smaller businesses.

The reopening of the 101 Freeway in Montecito remained unclear Saturday as crews continued to clear out mud, water and debris from a portion of the highway. The likelihood is increasing that we'll be finding bodies, not survivors.

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