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Will there be another mudslide in Montecito?

14 January 2018

On the fourth day of search for victims of the southern California mudslides, the death toll has increased to 19 people, the Santa Barbara sheriff's office tells NPR.

A Cal Fire search and rescue crew walks through mud near homes damaged by storms in Montecito, Calif., on Friday.

The mudslides also injured almost 30 people and destroyed about 100 homes in the Montecito area between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres struggled to hold back tears as she face-timed with media mogul Oprah Winfrey to discuss the Montecito mudslides that have brought deadly destruction to their neighbourhood in Santa Barbara County, California.

Joseph Bleckel, 87, was found in his home on Friday, the sheriff's office said.

Searchers had checked most of the debris zone for victims and some were doubling back to leave no stone unturned Thursday when a crew ended up in the backyard of Bill Asher, who lost his palatial home and a similar one he was building next door. Highway 192 is also called East Valley Road and Foothill Road in that area. Her son told her to stay upstairs, but he told KSBY-6 she went to the ground level and was taken by the knee-deep current of mud.

Longtime friend Doug Scott told ABC News that Gower and another friend were on the second floor of her home but ventured downstairs when they heard rumbling. "You just don't even think that this is possible". James was 89, and Alice was 78.

Among dramatic historic examples in the mountains of Southern California, a 1934 storm unleashed runoff so intense that 30 people were killed, more than 480 homes were destroyed and a almost 60-ton (54-metric ton) boulder was pushed out of a canyon.

It was not until Wednesday night that her body was confirmed to be found by first responders. "Why did she go downstairs?" The Rohters have been longtime benefactors of the college in Santa Paula. He shared the home with his partner, who owned a cafe in Santa Barbara. Their home of more than 30 years was untouched by the torrents of mud and water. Heavy rains caused rivers of mud and debris to run down from hillsides, creating the mudslides in Santa Barbara County.

"They are hopeful that we will still recover live victims out there", said Amber Anderson, public information officer for the multi-agency response team.

An additional 900 emergency personnel arrived in Montecito, north of Los Angeles, to join the relief effort underway by more than 2,100 personnel from local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and the American Red Cross. Best to give workers a chance to clear the roads up, she said. Sleeping nearby was Jonathan Benitez, Kaelly's cousin and Ramos' nephew.

The youngest, 3-year-old Kailly Benitez, was one of four children killed. "Direct Relief is committed for as long as it takes to help the Santa Barbara and Montecito community recover from these tragic events". Video shot from the hovering chopper showed a house surrounded by muck and debris as a mother, muddy from the waist down, handed her infant to two rescuers on the roof and then got help onto it.

Will there be another mudslide in Montecito?