Californian authorities have called for public help in locating seven people still missing after mudslides that killed at least 18, as crews carried on searching for survivors on Saturday.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office made a plea for information on any of the missing residents, while acknowledging that finding anyone alive would be a ‘miracle’.
‘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 devastation caused by Tuesday’s mudslides can be seen in this before and after satellite photo of Montecito
Highway 101 can be seen under layers of thick mud after storms caused mudslides and flooding in Montecito, California
Mud and debris gather outside the Montecito Inn along Olive Mill Road in Montecito after the mudslides
Rescue workers scour through cars for missing persons after a mudslide in Montecito
Mudslides destroyed 100 houses damaging 300 others after debris spread across a wide swath of Montecito
The sheriff’s office listed the names of the missing, who range in age from two to 62, in a statement on Friday night with an 18th victim being found on Friday.
Emergency workers found the body of an 87-year-old man in his house, authorities said as they searched through damaged and destroyed homes, sometimes for a second time.
There are around 1,250 emergency workers on the ground still trying to find and rescue those still trapped, Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said to CNN.
1,250 rescuers have searched frantically for the missing after rivers of mud and boulders came through
Trees and mud-covered furniture push through a home after the mudslide
A damaged property can be seen after the mudslide in Montecito
A man walks down East Valley Road which is caked in mud and debris after the mudslide in Montecito, California
Armored vehicles were used to traverse the mud-covered roads which were difficult to pass
Recovered personal items sit on a pile of mud and debris are just a few of the items that have been recovered
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Joseph Bleckel had been on the missing list before they found him
‘In disaster circumstances, there have been many miraculous stories of people lasting many days. We certainly are searching for a miracle right now,’ Brown said Thursday.
‘But realistically we suspect that we are going to continue to have discovery of people who were killed in this incident.’
The disaster struck on Tuesday after heavy rains soaked the area near Montecito, north of Los Angeles, where vegetation had been denduded by the largest wildfire in California’s history.
Sodden hillsides gave way, unleashing a torrent of mud, water, uprooted trees and boulders onto the valley below and causing what the police described as ‘traumatic injuries’ to the victims, who ranged in age from 3 to 89.
The destruction covered 30 square miles and 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 are involved in ‘challenging’ search, recovery and relief efforts, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
Rescue workers scour through properties for missing persons. Seven people are still missing. There have been 18 deaths
Geologists and forecasters warned that intense rain could trigger deadly mudslides from the scorched areas
Rescuers are going to be on site for at least another two weeks as they try and recover whatever they can
Rescue workers on the 101 Highway clear mud and debris from the roadway
People’s cars and possessions were simply tossed about by the mudslides as if they were toys
The immediate areas where people were killed are under mandatory evacuation, and officials increased the size of the evacuation zone Thursday.
‘We know that this a terribly inconvenient development, but it is also incredibly necessary,’ Brown said.
‘This entire area is a very active rescue and recovery and repair zone right now,’ he said.
Rescue workers are using helicopters and all-terrain vehicles to search for victims but their efforts are being hampered by blocked roads, fallen trees and downed power lines.
Officials ordered residents in most of the southeastern corner of Montecito, which is east of Santa Barbara, to leave their homes for what was likely to be one or two weeks.
One of California’s most celebrated roads, coastal Highway 101, was partially closed, with mud was two feet deep in places, while in Montecito, mud reached the roof lines of houses, as residents surveyed their damaged homes.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office made a plea for information on any of the missing residents, while acknowledging that finding anyone alive would be a ‘miracle’
‘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
Rescue workers enter properties, sometimes for a second time to look for missing persons after the mudslide
The disaster struck on Tuesday after heavy rains soaked the area near Montecito, north of Los Angeles, where vegetation had been denduded by the largest wildfire in California’s history
Neighbors talk to each as rescue workers scour through cars after the tragedy
Sodden hillsides gave way, unleashing a torrent of mud, water, uprooted trees and boulders onto the valley below and causing what the police described as ‘traumatic injuries’ to the victims
The destruction covered 30 square miles and 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 are involved in ‘challenging’ search, recovery and relief efforts
Officials ordered residents in most of the southeastern corner of Montecito, which is east of Santa Barbara, to leave their homes for what was likely to be one or two weeks
Rescuers continued to dig through the tangled wreckage of vehicles and homes, searching for human remains or survivors
Crews are still trying to fight their way through roadways made inaccessible by mudflow in the hopes of locating more people
‘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.
Billy Grokenberger lives in a part of Montecito that was under a voluntary evacuation order. He and his parents put belongings in three cars in case they decided to leave before the storm but they decided to stay put.
‘We had thought about leaving, but we had just had the fires,’ he said, referring to the recent wildfires that stripped the area of needed vegetation. ‘… We didn’t take it seriously enough,’ he told CNN.
‘In four minutes the water was through our wall and in our house, almost to the second story,’ he said.
A mud-filled property. A torrent of mud, boulders and debris destroyed scores of homes
Mud-covered books are seen after a mudslide. The cleanup may take many months, or even years
A mud-filled property is seen after the mudslide. Most who had been stranded in their homes have been rescued
Lives and homes were ruined in an instant as the torrent of water and mud came down the hillsides and into homes
Most homes will have to be be torn down and rebuilt. With the damage so extensive, it is hard to know where to begin
A search and rescue dog waits to be guided through properties after the mudslide
‘The house is destroyed, but you know, there’s just so many others who are less fortunate. But we just feel lucky that we were able to get out and are alive.’
Others have been describing how loved ones were lost. Peter Fleurat, 73, and his life partner Ralph ‘Lalo’ Barajas were asleep in their bed at 3.30am on Tuesday when water began gushing into their house in Montecito.
A friend of the pair, Eliot Seal, told KSBY how they quickly clambered out onto their bathroom vanity to escape the rising water as it flooded the house.
‘As the house buckled, Peter said ‘Grab onto a tree and hold on tight’, Seal said. ‘It’s so typical of Peter to be thinking of someone else.’
Peter Fleurat, 73, (right) and his life partner Ralph ‘Lalo’ Barajas were asleep in their bed at 3.30am on Tuesday when water began gushing into their house in Montecito
Fleurat (left and right) was swept to his death. His body was found just a few hours later near Olive Mill, at 11am on Tuesday, although his family were not notified until the following day
Moments later, a torrent of mud and water hit the house.
Fleurat was swept to his death. His body was found just a few hours later near Olive Mill, at 11am on Tuesday, although his family were not notified until the following day.
Barajas, the owner of the Rose Cafe on the Mesa, was knocked out and taken to the nearby hospital with cuts and bruises all over his body. He said that all he could remember was ”the world spinning all around him and then he woke up at Santa Barbara Cottage,’ said Seal.
‘It sounded like he must have traveled 300 feet.’
The mudslide hit the couple’s Hot Springs Road home so hard it was knocked off its foundations, according to another friend.
A damaged house and vehicle are seen after a mudslide that left 17 dead, 43 missing and hundreds of others trapped inside their homes
Mudslides ripped through homes, causing death and destruction to anything that got in its way
Homes were ripped open by debris carried by the mudslides that ravaged Santa Barbara
Friends and family have paid tribute to Fleurat, who studied nursing at Santa Barbara City College and worked as an end-of-life carer.
Juli Miller wrote on Facebook: ‘With a very heavy heart, our kind, creative friend with an unforgettable laugh has left us. Thank you all for sharing and especially to Cynthia for finding the most recent information for us. Hug your loved ones and stay in contact with people you adore. You never know when it will be too late.’
‘He’s a great loss to so many people,’ Seal said. ‘He was just a very unique person. Everyone loved him. He was fun, he was mischievous, he would also always play jokes on you.’
Fleurat grew up in upstate New York and moved to Montecito in the 1970s. There he met Barajas and the couple have been together for the past 20 years. His family are now traveling down from New York for his funeral.
Friends and family have paid tribute to Fleurat, who studied nursing at Santa Barbara City College and worked as an end-of-life carer
Fleurat grew up in upstate New York and moved to Montecito in the 1970s. There he met Barajas and the couple have been together for the past 20 years
A GoFundMe account has been set up by Barajas’ niece Angelique Barajas to help pay for Fleurat’s funeral and her uncle’s medical expenses.
‘Sadly, (Barajas) lost his home and his partner of close to 20 years, Peter Fleurat, in the tragic mudslide in Montecito on Tuesday, January 9,’ she wrote, adding that her uncle had been left with just the clothes he was wearing.
His restaurant posted on Facebook Wednesday saying they would remain open, ‘keeping Lalo’s pride and joy going while he tries to cope with this tragic loss.’
Officials confirmed that 17 people, aged from 3 years old to 89, all residents of Montecito, were killed in the mudslides and another five were still missing. The floods also destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.
Josie Gower, 69, a retired nurse, (left and right) was confirmed dead by friends on social media on Wednesday after a frantic 24 hour search for her
A friend said that Gower (pictured with her son Hayden) and another friend had been on the second floor of her home but had gone downstairs after hearing noises
‘Why didn’t she stay upstairs?’ her son Hayden Gower asked ABC News in tears. ‘Why did she go downstairs?’
The community is struggling coming to terms with the loss of so many friends and neighbors.
Dr Mark T. Montgomery, 54, and his daughter Caroline Montgomery, 22, were both killed in the floods.
The hand surgeon, a popular figure in the local community, who graduated from Princeton University and Columbia University Medical School, was described as ‘kind and caring’ by his patients.
He was at home with his wife and two kids when the mudslide hit. His wife and son Duffy survived, but Mark was swept away and killed. His daughter Caroline died in her brother’s arms, KSBY reports.
Caroline, graduated Santa Barbara Montessori School and studied at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York. She may have been back home for the holidays when the mudslide hit.
Dr Mark Montgomery, 54, (left) and his daughter Caroline Montgomery, 22, (right) were also killed
Real estate broker Rebbecca Riskin, 61, (right) were killed in the mudslides
Josie Gower, 69, a retired nurse, was confirmed dead by friends on social media on Wednesday after a frantic 24 hour search for her.
A friend said that Gower and another friend had been on the second floor of her home but had gone downstairs after hearing noises. They were both swept away by the mudslide, although the other friend was found clinging to a nearby tree.
‘Why didn’t she stay upstairs?’ her son Hayden Gower asked ABC News in tears. ‘Why did she go downstairs?’
Friends revealed that her body was carried ‘several miles’ by the river of mud which rushed through the town.
‘Heartbreaking loss as we learned that she was taken from us by the muddy floodwaters and swept downhill for several miles,’ one said. She is believed to have died along with her dog.
‘She was very gregarious, very unique. In so many ways she was so beautiful,’ added Diane Brewer, who knew Gower for decades. ‘Everyone loves her. She truly was one of a kind.
‘And she would always stop to give cookies or other treats to people at the YMCA,’ she said.
Friends and family had been appealing for information of Josie’s whereabouts on social media.
McManigal, 64, (left) and his young son Connor (not pictured) were swept away in the mudslide. His son survived but John was sadly killed. Martin Cabrera-Munoz, 48, (right) also died in the mudslide
Rebecca Riskin, 61, a real estate agent and founder of Riskin Partners, and her two dogs were also killed when the mud swept through her living room on Glenoaks Boulevard. Her husband survived because he was in bed in another part of the house.
Riskin’s death was confirmed by her real estate agency on Wednesday after her body was found near a highway.
‘It is with heavy hearts we share that our dear friend and partner, Rebecca Riskin, has passed away as a result of the tragic flooding and mudslides in Montecito,’ the company wrote in a statement. ‘The confirmation of her loss is incredibly devastating to her friends, family, and our community.’
‘Rebecca was an exceptional woman, and her legacy will continue to live on and thrive through her children, Robert and Julia, her husband Ken Grand, and her namesake firm, Riskin Partners.’
Her frantic daughter said she was missing along with her dogs on Tuesday.
Marilyn Ramos, 27, (left) was killed along with her young daughter Kailly Benitez, 3, (right) in the floods
Her family are now trying to raise money for them to return both (left) mother and daughter (right) , to Ramos’ native Marquelia, in Guerrero, southern Mexico
Neighbors have since told how they had to be rescued from her roof to survive as the slides swept over their homes.
Riskin is survived by her husband, two grown children and a grandson.
Colleagues at Riskin Partners described how she’s closed more than $2 billion worth of deals since founding the firm in the 1990s.
‘She’s leaving a huge void. She was exceptional,’ said Gina Conte of Riskin, a former ballerina with the American Ballet Theater in New York until an injury sent her back to LA in the late 1970s.
Father-of-six John McManigal, 64, was swept away by the muds as he and his young son Connor fled in the early hours of the morning. Connor was reportedly found not far from their home and has been hospitalized but authorities have not yet found John.
Connor’s worried brother, Tyler McManigal, 28, who is stationed at a military base in Hawaii, read about the mudslides and shared his concerns for his father on Wednesday.
The coroner confirmed John’s death on Thursday. A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money for the grieving family.
Married couple James, 89, (left) and Alice, 78, (right) Mitchell were tragically killed on Tuesday
The elderly couple had been married for more than 50 years and had just celebrated Jim’s 89th birthday when they were swept away along with their beloved white poodle Gigi. The coroner confirmed their deaths on Thursday
Marilyn Ramos, 27, and her young daughter Kailly Benitez, 3, were also tragically killed in the floods on Tuesday.
Her family, including her parents Francisco ‘Paco’ Ramos and Martha Tapia Gil, are now trying to raise money for them to return both mother and daughter, to Ramos’ native Marquelia, in Guerrero, southern Mexico.
Sawyer Corey, 12, and her sister Morgan, 25, were at home with the rest of their family when the mudslides crept over their home. Their mother Carrie and other sister, Summer, were also swept away but they were rescued. They are currently in hospital recovering from the ordeal.
But on Thursday, the coroner confirmed that Sawyer was among the dead.
Her sister Morgan is still missing.
Jonathan Benitez, nine, was swept from his home along with his mother, Fabiola, who is missing. The child’s father and brother survived and were hospitalized.
On Thursday, a resident in Montecito who is friends with the family confirmed to DailyMail.com that Jonathan’s body had been found.
Sawyer Corey, 12 was at home with the rest of their family when the mudslides crept over their home. Her mother Carrie and twin sister, Summer, were also swept away but they were rescued (pictured is Sawyer, Summer and their mom Carrie)
Kids, Sawyer Corey, 12, (left) and Jonathan Benitez, nine, (right) died after he was swept from their home in the floods
David Cantin, 49, died after being swept away from his home along with his teenage son. His daughter Lauren was filmed being rescued by firefighters from their home after they heard her screaming from the wreckage.
Friends initially reported that his son Jack had been found safe and was hospitalized but those reports lost weight on Thursday as relatives continued to search for him.
Roy Rohter, 84, was swept away from his home along with his wife Theresa in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Theresa was rescued from the mud and was taken to hospital.
Her husband’s death was confirmed by St. Augustine Academy in Ventura which he founded in 1994. Rohter, a former real estate broker, was the first victim to be confirmed dead in the disaster.
Elderly couple James Mitchell, 89, and Alice Mitchell, 78, had been missing since early on Tuesday.
Roy Rohter (left) was swept away from his home with his wife. She survived but he was killed. Dave Cantin (right) was also swept to his death in the mudslide
Larry and Judy Anderson, who live on Feather Hill, Montecito, have also been reported missing by family and friends
Their worried relatives appealed for information about their whereabouts on social media. The couple had been married for more than 50 years and had just celebrated Jim’s 89th birthday when they were swept away along with their beloved white poodle Gigi.
The coroner confirmed their deaths on Thursday.
Martin Cabrera-Munoz, 48, was confirmed dead by younger brother Joel who said Martin was killed when the floods hit East Valley Road. The family have launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for his funeral services.
Also named among the dead were Peerawat Sutthithepn, 6, and Richard Taylor, 67.
Larry Anderson, 73, and Judy Anderson, 78, remain missing as of Friday. The couple’s friends and relatives appealed for help to find them on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, some residents reported speaking to neighbors who said the couple had been found safe but their claims are unconfirmed.
The 101 Highway which Thorne spoke of is seen closed on both sides in Montecito, California on Thursday
Vehicles are seen stopped after a 6pm mandatory evacuation order is placed following the mudslide and its devastation
A destroyed vehicle is shown amid the California mudslide that forced highways to close down
Rescue workers slogged through knee-deep ooze and used long poles to probe for bodies as the search dragged on for victims of the mudslides that slammed this wealthy coastal town
A search and rescue worker is seen trekking through properties from the mudslide that destroyed hundreds of homes
The mudslides destroyed 100 houses and damaged 300 others after debris spread across a wide swath of Montecito – a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to a number of high profile celebrities.
Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown told residents forced from their homes this morning that he was’ searching for a miracle’.
‘We know that this a terribly inconvenient development but it is also incredibly necessary,’ he said.
Aerial images of the area show that Oprah Winfrey’s $50million estate managed to survive the mudslide. She said her property had suffered some minor damage, but nothing compared to that of her neighbors.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s $4.9 million Montecito home’s ‘Monet-like’ gardens have been ravaged by mudslides. Pictured before the deluge, left, and after, right
San Ysidro Ranch, pictured before the mudslides, left, and after, right, has been covered in thick mud and some of its cottages have been buried
Photos show the extent of the damage, such as this guest cottages at the storied San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito which has been hit badly by the deadly mudflow
Oprah’s mansion: Aerial images of the area show that Oprah’s $50million estate managed to survive the mudslide
Shocking images that captured the area north of Oprah’s estate show severely damaged homes that were completely engulfed by the river of mud. She shared video of her in knee-deep mud and debris as she said a fence had been knocked down and that she was ‘devastated’ over the damage to her neighbor’s home.
Gwyneth Paltrow was not so lucky and aerial images reveal her mud covered gardens. And it’s not just her property portfolio that took a hit on Tuesday.
San Ysidro Ranch, where she tied the knot with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, has been all but destroyed by the mudslides. The couple wed in the ranch’s Willow Cottage in a private ceremony on December 5, 2003. They divorced last year but the pair remain friends and have two children together.
The beloved venue for countless celebrity weddings, from Lawrence Olivier’s nuptials with Vivien Leigh in 1940, to Jessica Simpson’s wedding to Eric Johnson in 2014. Even the Kennedys honeymooned here after JFK wed Jacqueline in 1953.
But the ranch, which is nestled 500 acres of gardens in the mountains of Montecito, was ravaged by Tuesday’s mudslides.