Abril 20, 2018

Up to 43 people still missing after California mudslides; dead identified

13 Enero 2018, 07:05 | Gerardo Tarin

Santa Barbara County Fire Department

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The number of dead could climb as crews search through mud and debris that covered about 30 square miles.

Thousands had to leave their homes, many for the second time in two months.

Evacuee Hannah Troy has spent three days at the Red Cross shelter in nearby Santa Barbara.

Among the dead were an elderly woman whose house was washed away by mud, the founder of a Roman Catholic school and a real estate executive, according to friends, family and local news media.

Jennifer Ramos says Marilyn Ramos shared the home with her husband, Antonio Benitez, and the family of his brother, Victor Benitez. Best to give workers a chance to clear the roads up, she said.

"When I got halfway down the hill, I just felt this burst of water hit the back of the vehicle", he told KTLA.

"We have a yard to redo and hopefully our insurance will help out with that, but the people across from me, newer homes, gone", said Garrett Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years. "You have to start accepting the reality of that". The victims ranged from 3 years old to 89 years old.

She says Marilyn Ramos doted on her only child, Kailly.

The county coroner has listed the cause of death for each victim as "multiple traumatic injuries due to flash flood with mudslides due to recent wildfire".

More than two full days after mudslides ravaged the coastal town of Montecito, the search for the missing became an increasingly desperate exercise Thursday, with growing doubts about whether anyone would be found alive.

"It looked like a World War I battlefield", said Brown on Tuesday and added, "While we hope it will not, we expect that this number will increase as we continue to look for people who are still missing and unaccounted for".

"These were people that were sheltered in place that had needs that just took a while to get to some of them", Pitney said. Some streets suffered no damage. However, the flood left it strewn with mud, boulders, wrecked cars, trashed buildings and tree limbs in a scene that Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown has compared to a World War I battlefield.

In addition to the homes destroyed, the debris flow from the mudslides has damaged hundreds of other structures, officials said.

Muck-spattered searchers from around the state slogged through knee-deep ooze, poking long poles into the mud to probe for victims. In one upscale neighborhood, firefighters warned each other of below-ground pools, which have turned into watery traps for the unwary.

Montecito is home to many Hollywood stars, and they were feeling the pain. He and his parents put belongings in their three cars, in case they chose to leave before the storm. "They were able to force the door closed and stuck it out until sunrise when they got out".

"Had we still had all the vegetation on the hills it would not have been as much of an issue", Targonia said.

"That's something we've known since the early to mid-20th century", said Josh West, an associate professor of earth sciences at the University of Southern California. The two had traveled to Italy for five weeks with Josie's children a year ago. "What would we have done with the animals?"

They cleaned out the 11 debris basins that dot the Santa Barbara front country, making room for the dirt and ash and rocks that winter rains would inevitably send tumbling down mountain slopes laid bare by the massive Thomas fire. "We've got all those chickens, which means we've got eggs, and they're flawless".

The US Coast Guard released footage of a couple, their two young children and two dogs being plucked from their roof and hoisted up to a helicopter in baskets.

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