Police hope for 'miracle' to find missing in mudslide

Sergio Conner
January 14, 2018

Search and rescue teams are looking for dozens of people who are still missing after this week's torrential rains caused mudslides in Southern California, authorities said.

"We have a yard to redo and hopefully our insurance will help out with that, but the people across from me, newer homes, gone", Garrett Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years, said.

Uncertainty remains around the exact number of people still missing, as authorities warned the figure may continue to fluctuate.

"So again, we evacuated because they feared mudslides".

'The missing persons were reported by family and friends, and resided in areas that were heavily damaged during the storm and subsequent mudslides, ' the sheriff's office said.

The TV host opened up about the recent devastating California fires and mudslide that killed at least 17 people on Tuesday.

They were identified as Jonathan Benitez, 10; Kailly Benitez, 3; Martin Cabrera-Munoz, 48; David Cantin, 49; Sawyer Corey, 12; Peter Fleurat, 73; Josephine Gower, 69; John McManigal, 61; Alice Mitchell, 78; James Mitchell, 89; Mark Montgomery, 54; Caroline Montgomery, 22; Marilyn Ramos, 27; Rebecca Riskin, 61; Roy Rohter, 84; Peerawat Sutthithepn, 6; and Richard Taylor, 67.

"We need that number to effectively meet our objectives", said Amber Anderson, a spokesman for the multi-agency response team.

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The US Forest Service announced on Friday that the fire that burned 440 square miles had been fully contained. Cantin's 14-year-old daughter, Lauren, was rescued by firefighters this week after being trapped for hours.

The army of search-and-rescue crews and recovery workers swelled to more than 2,100 on Saturday in the coastal enclave about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Secondary searches also will be conducted in areas that emergency crews were able to access earlier in the week.

In some cases, the deluge seemed to split families as well as homes.

She tweeted: "This is the street in front of our house".

Roy Rohter, 84, founder of the Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, was killed on Tuesday when a mudslide swept him from his Montecito home, according to officials at the private Catholic school. On the stretch of the freeway by the Montecito Inn, several feet of mud and rubble collected in the road.

Crews are using backhoes, jackhammers and shovels to look for victims and clear roads. "Some of the locals think there's probably bodies in there".

About 100 homes have been destroyed and 300 others damaged in Montecito, a community known for its multimillion-dollar properties. An additional 1,500 homes remain threatened.

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.

One of the survivors of this week's deadly mudslides in Montecito was the subject of one of the most dramatic rescues to take place when she was pulled covered in mud from a collapsed house. The walls at one end of a home had disappeared, leaving its roof hanging precariously.

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