The cause of death for all decedents will be listed as "Multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides due to recent wildfire", said the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office, which today released the names of the 17 people, aged three to 89, who lost their lives in the mudslides, all from Montecito.
Most residents of mudslide-ravaged Montecito were under orders to clear out Friday as the search for victims dragged on and crews labored to clean up the muck and fix power, water and gas lines.
More than 29,000 people are under the evacuation orders which could last for at least a week.
On Thursday, the number provided by authorities went from 48, down to eight, then back up to 43.
"We would have evacuated", she said. "We hope there's not going to be any more".
Crews marked places where bodies were found, often far away from a home, and used that information to guess where other victims might have ended up as the surging mud carried or buried them.
Sheriff Bill Brown gave the larger number Thursday but cautioned that many or most of those people may simply have been unreachable to the family and friends who reported they couldn't find them. At least 65 homes have been destroyed, and hundreds damaged.
"Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara", Winfrey wrote in another post, sharing photos of her mud-soaked backyard, fires, and helicopters making rescues in the area.
The flash-floods struck in the early morning hours Tuesday.
The storm is now over, and weather is no longer interfering with rescue efforts, authorities say. "You have to start accepting the reality of that".
Helen Murdoch, a resident of Santa Barbara, described the damage done by the mudslides this way: "I would say it's apocalyptic".
"We have to do whatever it takes", Capt. Tom Henzgen, leader of a team from the Los Angeles Fire Department, told The Associated Press. "(It) surrounded the house, 2 to 3 feet". I love that community so much. "I feel like I escaped". Dozens of homes were swept away during the storm, .
The huge wildfire that led to this week's devastating debris flows in Montecito, California, is finally 100 percent contained. Because of the flooding and mud flows, firefighters were unable to reach those homes to put out the flames.
Numerous young women are most likely from Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and environs. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.
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