Death toll rises to 19 in California mudslides, five still missing

Lester Mason
January 14, 2018

Her 12-year-old sister, Sawyer, had been found dead earlier.

At least 65 homes have been destroyed, and hundreds damaged.

Yesterday, 87-year-old Joseph Bleckel was found dead in his Montecito home, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

"The missing persons were reported by family and friends, and resided in areas that were heavily damaged during the storm and subsequent mudslides".

The mudslide was so massive that it temporarily shut down USA 101, a major West Coast highway, from Montecito to Santa Barbara.

Rescuers have searched frantically for the missing after rivers of mud and boulders flooded through neighborhoods in and near Montecito, an affluent seaside community east of Santa Barbara, demolishing homes and leaving roads impassable.

"We need that number to effectively meet our objectives", Anderson said.

"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". They include a couple who fell in love with their Montecito community, a family of Mexican immigrants and a college student and her dad, a doctor.

The searchers are using all-terrain vehicles and helicopters, but downed power lines and blocked roads are complicating their efforts. He and his parents put belongings in three cars in case they made a decision to leave before the storm.

"We have to do whatever it takes", said Capt. Tom Henzgen, leader of a team from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Residents of this beleaguered town look up and wonder aloud: "Haven't we suffered enough?"

"Where do you go when you're a family of four and you don't have a second house?" Santa Barbara has the closest trauma center to the scene of the disaster ... and a lot of nurses that work there just simply couldn't get to work. She and her 3-year-old daughter, Kaelly Ramos Benitez, were among those killed in the Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 mudslides in the area.

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

Walls of mud and debris cascaded down hillsides stripped of trees and shrubs by last month's wildfires, including the Thomas Fire, the largest blaze in the state's history. It wasn't fully contained until this week. Riskin, the founder of Riskin Partners, was among those killed in this week's deadly Montecito, Calif., mudslides.

Montecito may be at slightly less risk now, because this week's flooding already brought down vulnerable material.

Before the news conference had ended, Brown returned to the microphone, and with a happy tone said a phone call had just come in about Keating. Long term, one option would be more basins to slow down storm runoff and collect debris.

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.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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