But warnings for residents to leave had been issued for days before the mudslides through social media, news media and community information emails about the potential for mudflows from the huge wildfire scar in hills above neighborhoods.
"And there's a very strong likelihood, given the amount of destruction and the amount of homes that are still inaccessible that there still could be people alive or dead in those other homes".
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said crews recovered the latest victim, 87-year-old Joseph Francis Bleckel, from his home in the Romero Canyon area about 11:30 a.m. Friday.
The youngest, 3-year-old Kailly Benitez, was one of four children killed.
Miller knew people who stayed, and for some of them, what he called "evacuation fatigue" influenced their decision.
First responders have searched about 75 percent of the debris field left by a torrent of boulders, detritus and muck, according to Brown.
Rescue crews with dogs and scanners dug through waist-deep mud in an affluent stretch of Southern California's coast on Wednesday, hunting for some two dozen people missing after mudslides swept through, killing at least 15.
Thanks to these efforts, over 300 people have been rescued from the mudslides by helicopters. McElroy said the big push on Saturday was to clean roads in the Santa Barbara and Montecito areas in order to improve vehicular access.
This little girl is among 17 people known to have been killed in the California mudslide.
In some cases, the deluge seemed to split families as well as homes. Troy said her cottage was probably ok, but at least three of her family's cars were flooded, filled with debris or carried away - and likely some combination of all three.
Other victims include a 22-year-old woman who died in the arms of her brother as he frantically tried to save her, after their father was also swept to his death by the fast-moving river of mud.
The scenes of destruction in Montecito from Tuesday's deadly flash-flooding are nearly unbelievable. Rohter did not survive; his wife was rescued and said to be in stable condition, the college said in a statement this week.
In addition, eight commercial buildings were destroyed and 20 were damaged.
Caltrans crews are working to fix inundated portions of Highway 101, but the freeway isn't expected to be reopened until Monday at the earliest, according to CHP Capt. Cindy Pontes. On the stretch of the freeway by the Montecito Inn, several feet of mud and rubble collected in the road. More than 1,200 workers were said to be at the scene. "Some of the locals think there's probably bodies in there". In addition to the dead and injured, 65 houses have been destroyed while another 462 sustained damage.
Residents in some areas were subject to a new mandatory evacuation on Friday, emergency officials said, adding the unstable environment remained a threat.
Laura Camp, a spokesperson for the Montecito water district, said the boiled water notice is still in effect for the entire district.
From above, the debris flow appears as a near-endless swath of brown, interrupted occasionally by the roof tiles of inundated homes and clouds of smoke from smoldering structures.