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Southern California mudslides: 15 dead, hundreds still await rescue

Southern California mudslides: 15 dead, hundreds still await rescue

Three people were rescued Wednesday while two more bodies were discovered, raising the toll to 17, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Mr Johnson said he and his wife Karen had heard a baby crying after the flooding had subsided and they managed to climb down from the roof of their swamped home in the Montecito neighbourhood.

Among those missing are an elderly couple who ignored evacuation warnings to stay in their "forever home" and celebrate an 89th birthday.

"This is something that you would see in a disaster movie and never thought it would possibly happen in this area", said Brown, who anxious that any more rain might just send more mud tumbling down.

Most deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres, said Santa Barbara County spokesman David Villalobos.

But the wooded hillsides that once gave their estates a sense of seclusion were largely denuded by last year's historic wildfires, setting the stage for the massive slides that slammed into homes, turned highways into raging rivers and swept away vehicles after heavy Tuesday rains. The search for victims is not.

NeoTract, a maker of devices used in the medical field of urology, has launched a fundraising page asking for financial support for the family of Kim Cantin.

Josephine Gower, 69, died when she opened the door to her home, her son, Hayden Gower, told NBC station KSBY. Multiple houses were ripped out from their foundations.

NeoTract's GoFundMe post says her father and brother are still missing.

Mudslides and flooding in southern California are causing huge amounts of damage.

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Rebecca Riskin, the founder of Riskin Partners, was killed when mudslides ripped through Montecito.

The statement says Riskin was an "exceptional woman" who had exuded strength, grace and elegance. Many people are on edge, awaiting news about missing loved ones.

On Thursday, the number provided by authorities went from 48, down to eight, then back up to 43.

The number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.

The Ventura County Air Unit also posted videos of their rescues, showing teams rescuing stranded individuals from the deadly mudslides.

With heavy rain forecast, authorities had ordered evacuations beneath the burned areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, but only 10 to 15 percent of residents heeded the orders, according to the Santa Barbara police department.

The number has fluctuated since the disaster struck in the early morning darkness Tuesday and was as low as 16 on Wednesday evening.

The storm hit hard between 3 and 6 a.m. Tuesday as Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office dispatchers handled more than 600 phone calls for help, the sheriff said. For days, the county had issued repeated warnings via social media, news media and emails about the potential for mudslides.

Rescue crews used helicopters to pluck people from rooftops because trees and power lines blocked roads, and firefighters pulled a mud-caked 14-year-old girl from a collapsed Montecito home where she had been trapped for hours.

Weimer's parents, Jim and Alice Mitchell, didn't heed a voluntary evacuation warning and had made a decision to stay home Monday to celebrate her father's 89th birthday. Hillsides stripped of their vegetation by the fires were defenseless as mud, boulders and other debris were swept down onto roads and communities.