California Mudslides Death Toll Rises To 19, Residents Told To Evacuate

California Mudslides Death Toll Rises To 19, Residents Told To Evacuate

Morgan Christine Corey, 25, is the latest victim found among the debris, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said during a news conference. "This is a constantly changing list", he said. The death toll from the wave of mud and debris that struck Montecito early Tuesday morning stands at 17.

Officials ordered residents in most of the southeastern corner of Montecito, which is east of Santa Barbara, to leave their homes for what was likely to be one or two weeks.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson says the number of personnel searching ravaged neighborhoods has doubled over the past day to 1,250.

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

"But realistically we suspect that we are going to continue to have discovery of people who were killed in this incident".

At noon on Saturday, the evacuation warning issued for areas south of Highway 192 between Ortega Ridge Road to the Santa Barbara County line will be lifted.

"We know that this a terribly inconvenient development, but it is also incredibly necessary", Brown said. Brown apologized for the inconvenience, but he called the area "a very active rescue and recovery and fix zone right now".

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Hundreds of rescue workers slogged through knee-deep ooze and used long poles to probe for bodies Thursday as the search dragged on for victims of the mudslides that slammed this wealthy coastal town.

Billy Grokenberger lives in a part of Montecito that was under a voluntary evacuation order. "It just exhausts the crews out there", Sacramento Fire Department Captain Pat Costamagna said in a social media video from the Governor's emergency management office. But county emergency manager Jeff Gater said officials decided not to use the cellphone push alert system until 3:50 a.m. Tuesday out of concern it might not be taken seriously.

Cia Monroe said her family of four was lucky their home wasn't ruined and they were all healthy and safe, though her daughter lost one of her best friends. "I got back over the holidays and I just drove around".

"I said, 'We gotta get out of here.' As I turned the vehicle around and I looked in my rear-view mirror, I saw huge boulders the size of my auto rolling on the street behind me, and I went, 'Mother of God, this is like Independence Day, ' so I took off back down to the house", he said.

The fires burned most vegetation, leaving ideal conditions for the latest disaster to unfold.

Last month's spate of wildfires, including the largest in California history, burned away grass and shrubs that held soil in place, and baked a waxy layer into the earth that prevents water from sinking deeply into the ground.

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