Hard search goes on in California mudslides

NATION-NOW     Montecito residents Ellen DeGeneres Oprah Winfrey talk catastrophic California mudslides     
       Ellen Oprah speak out about California mudslides

An active search and rescue operation is ongoing, officials said.

He and his partner of 17 years, Ralph "Lalo" Barajas, were swept out of their home before dawn Tuesday by the devastating slide.

As their names and those of 14 other victims were released Thursday, crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people. The sheriff's office told CBS News it issued voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders based on the best information they had, but the rain fell much faster and harder than expected. A huge police presence keeps out both residents and looters. Many streets near the downtown area remain impassible for vehicles with pools of liquid mud up to two feet deep.

More: 30 square miles. About 65 single-family homes were destroyed and another 462 were damaged.

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

"Kim Cantin and her family were horribly impacted by this storm".

"Financially that's a burden", she said. A family friend said Ramos called home daily to her relatives in her native town of Marquelia near Acapulco on Mexico's Pacific coast. "I was literally thinking every second that I caused my parents' death", he said. "I live there, Oprah lives there", she went on. They followed heavy rains in Santa Barbara County, where the enormous Thomas fire burned vegetation off the hillsides.

Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney said the likelihood is increasing that rescue crews will be finding bodies instead of survivors at this point. "You have to start accepting the reality of that".

This January 2017, photo provided by Kelly Weimer, shows Jim Mitchell, 89, with his wife, Alice Mitchell, 78, and their dog, Gigi.

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Almost 450 first responders and government officials and 14 rescue choppers flooded into the area to help bring order to the chaos. Morgan's younger sister Sawyer was previously also found dead.

In updating the missing figure, Brown said that the precise number could fluctuate significantly. She said some missing-person reports are quickly cleared but others take time to resolve. Aerial footage over Montecito showed a contrast of widespread damage next to homes completely untouched by the disaster.

The streets of Montecito in Santa Barbara country in California resemble a battlefield, choked with mud, downed trees, snapped utility poles, crumpled cars and crushed houses.

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.

"We know the area intimately", he said.

Friday morning, the couple walked down to a security checkpoint near their home to get an update from the California Highway Patrol officer stationed there.

Rivers of mud and boulders have flooded neighborhoods in and around the town of Montecito.

"If I'd have known how bad it was, we might have been scared", Abbe Shaw said. At least two unrecognizably mangled cars were carried like driftwood all the way to the beach, where they were partly covered in seaweed.

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