Race against time to find survivors of California mudslides

Cars are seen stranded on the 101 Freeway near Summerland on Jan. 9 2018

Cars are seen stranded on the 101 Freeway near Summerland on Jan. 9 2018

Three people were rescued on Wednesday.

"There have been many miraculous stories of people lasting many days (following similar disasters) and certainly we are searching for a miracle right now", Brown said. "Sunday night, Portia and I got a call that we were under mandatory evacuation again.so again we evacuated because they (authorities) feared mudslides". Two black Labrador retrievers swam around a debris-filled swimming pool, trying to pick up any scent. "We were ramped up for the weather here and we used those ramped up resources down there", Santa Maria City Manager Jason Stilwell said of sending Santa Maria resources. But he confessed: "The likelihood is increasing that we'll be finding bodies, not survivors. You have to start accepting the reality of that". When Josie Gower, 69, opened the front door of her Montecito home, she was fatally swept downhill for miles. Santa Barbara County firefighters had dogs picking through the muddy remains of homes, looking for any others who may have been trapped.

The rain poured down on hillsides charred by recent wildfires, which burned vegetation that otherwise could make the terrain more resistant to mudslides.

Santa Barbara County residents received an emergency alert on their cellphones about mudslides only after the deadly flooding began - because officials were concerned that the warning wouldn't be taken seriously, according to a new report.

Along Hot Springs Road, where at least two homes were carried off their foundations, bulldozers cleared muck and debris from areas already searched.

The region's natural beauty and easy access to Los Angeles to the southeast have long attracted the rich and powerful, including television personality Oprah Winfrey, former tennis star Jimmy Connors, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and actor Jeff Bridges.

Besides damaging homes, the mudslides interrupted power and water service for parts of the Montecito area. Next to some of the devastated areas sat large estates untouched by the torrent, their lawns still green and the landscaping lush. Eight people are still missing - officials had earlier said the number missing was 48 but issued a correction, noting the mistake was due to a clerical error.

"What they were was a bunch of trees that were being snapped by the mud and boulders and debris that were sliding down Toro Canyon", said Jonathan Reichlen, 45, who owns an urban landscaping company. "That's a insane mistake to make".

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"While we hope it will not, we expect that this number will increase as we continue to look for people who are still missing and unaccounted for", the sheriff said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Santa Barbara County officials said 20 people remained hospitalized from the mudslides.

Almost 100 homes were destroyed and 300 others were damaged. Four of the injured were reported in severely critical condition. "It was activated at the appropriate time actually when the event was occurring", Brown said.

A 14-year-old girl was "trapped for hours" in mud-soaked rubble on Hot Springs Road and then pulled to safety in a triumphant moment. Jim had celebrated his 89th birthday on Monday.

Search and rescue efforts have been slow as crews have to navigate through waist-deepmud, fallen trees, boulders and other debris.

Asher returned with a pickax and five friends and trudged through the debris to salvage any possession he could find.

Mr Goldberg, evacuated with his wife and two children.

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