Death toll climbs to 18 in massive Montecito mudslide

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

"Our hearts break for the communities first ravaged by fires and now devastated by these mudslides".

17 dead. More than 400 homes damaged.

The team was requested by authorities in Santa Barbara County earlier Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.

Devastating floods and mud flows were triggered Tuesday after heavy rain fell on areas recently burned in the massive Thomas fire, the largest wildfire in California history.

The search for additional possible victims is continuing. He said those who perished range in age from three to 89 years old."There are four juveniles on the list", he said.

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A mud-caked 14-year-old girl was among the dozens rescued on the ground Tuesday.

According to experts, the mudslide was the result of recent torrential rains. "What a day!" so she captioned the post.

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A flawless storm of land development, fire, wind and then rain conspired to create the deadly avalanche of mud and debris that leveled homes in Southern California this week.

Rebecca Riskin, the founder of Riskin Partners, was killed when mudslides ripped through Montecito. To make matters worse, biologists have found that when rain hits the charred landscape, it can become even more dense and more water repellent.

The statement says Riskin was an "exceptional woman" who had exuded strength, grace and elegance. Twenty-eight people were injured and as many as 43 are still missing.

Similar issues emerged in last year's wine country wildfires in Northern California, where at times thousands were reported missing, the overwhelming majority simply people whose communication with friends and family had been cut off by the fires.

Farrell spoke to ABC 7 Thursday morning, saying they took shelter in a hallway at the back of the house, standing in thigh-high mud for more than an hour. "There hasn't been a sound definition of what constitutes a missing person".

Anderson says the number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.

But only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of people in a mandatory evacuation area of Santa Barbara County heeded the warning, authorities said. Residents in Montecito woke to crashing noises and knee-deep muck, posting videos on social media of thrashed homes and cars in a thick, soupy water.

"They can search everything from a building collapse to a canyon to a mudslide", said Brent Brainard, canine handler. Members of the faith community will also be present and counseling services will be provided by the Santa Barbara County Emergency Operations Center and Hospice of Santa Barbara. Officials fear the death toll could rise because firefighters have not yet been able to access some areas in the path of the debris flows.

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