Window closing' for California mudslide searchers as death toll rises to 18

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"We were expecting rain this week and usually we're grateful for rain, especially in California, but not after the largest fire in the history of California", she said. "You never really know".

In addition, the current drought in Southern California only makes the potential for more mudslides worse, Luke Whelan wrote in Mother Jones magazine. The CDC says such flows result in 25 to 50 deaths each year. Benitez's husband and another son were taken to a hospital, but the woman and her younger child had not been heard from.

The Santa Barbara County coroner's office says the victims range in age from 3 to 89 and all are residents of Montecito.

According to county officials, Santa Barbara County Flood Control personnel are at the sites inspecting each load as they come in.

The number of missing after a California mudslide has fluctuated wildly, due to shifting definitions, the inherent uncertainty that follows a natural disaster, and just plain human error.

"Our home has been severely damaged, but we are safe, and so thankful for that and for the first responders who are working tirelessly to save people", Bridges tweeted.


The damage above Montecito isn't absolute.

Two cars were missing from his driveway, and he watched two others slowly move sideways down the middle of the street in a river of mud.

The searches themselves are slow, largely because the mud is so hard to walk through and hides myriad dangers. Like many, the couple described hearing explosions during the slide as gas lines ruptured and exploded.

"They can search everything from a building collapse to a canyon to a mudslide", said Brent Brainard, canine handler.

There, they called 911 and waited six long and exhausting hours while talking to a dispatcher on the phone. The affected area was located west of Sheffield Drive, East Valley Road and Lader Lane; east of Olive Mill and Hot Springs Road, north of the ocean and south of U.S. Forest Service boundary. At least two unrecognizably mangled cars were carried like driftwood all the way to the beach, where they were partly covered in seaweed. "What would we have done with the animals?" In the areas under the mandatory evacuation, officials said no residents will be allowed to return to their homes, and the order might be in place for one or two weeks. The mudslides began raindrops on top of hillsides in the Los Padres National Forest and then gained momentum as they tore downhill through the neighborhoods, picking up ash, dirt and debris along the way. DeGeneres said following the blazes, she was able to return to her house at the tail-end of last month. "We've got all those chickens, which means we've got eggs, and they're ideal". In late 2016, she bought an adjoining 9.2ha ranch for US$28.9 million (S$38.6 million), local media reported.

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