Death toll from California mudslides climbs to 18

A member of the Long Beach Search and Rescue team looks for survivors in a car in Montecito

Storm triggers flooding, mud flows and freeway closures throughout Thomas fire burn area

"I told her to stay on the second floor, but she went downstairs and opened the door and just got swept away", Hayden Gower said.

Ellen Degeneres was forced to flee her home in the wake of the Californian mudslides which have destroyed hundreds of properties in Montecito.

This undated photo provided by Gina Conte, shows Rebecca Riskin. Her company confirmed her death in a statement posted Wednesday night, January 10, 2018, on Facebook. At least two of her family cars were destroyed and she's not sure how her cottage fared.

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"I came around the house and heard a deep rumbling, an ominous sound that I knew was the boulders moving as the mud was rising", he told the AP.

Authorities announced Thursday that 73-year-old Peter Fleurat was among those who died in Montecito.

Troy lives with her sister and brother-in-law, who, like her, were ready to leave but then decided against it.

The luxury real estate agency called her loss "incredibly devastating" and said Riskin was an exceptional woman. "Devastated", Winfrey, 63, said as she stood, surrounded by debris.

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.

However, with most utilities about to be cut off and sewage running into the nearby creek, she chose to heed the order to leave. Rogers reported from Los Angeles. She moved to Montecito in the early 1990s. "We've got all those chickens, which means we've got eggs, and they're ideal". The mudslide swept Rohter and his wife Theresa Rohter out of their home. There he saw mudslides enveloping his street.

Another storm-related death was reported in Northern California, where a man was killed when his vehicle was apparently struck by falling rocks in a landslide Tuesday evening in Napa County.

Cal Fire search and rescue crews used their hands to get free as they trudged through the mud, looking for survivors.

. The courtyard of the 90-year-old Montecito Inn, built by silent movie actor Charlie Chaplin, was filled with a thick crust of debris driven by the slides. "It's very thick mud and you're just poking around". "You can't even fathom what these poor patients went through to finally make their way to the emergency department". "It's nearly like being blind-folded and poking around in the dark".

While the focus Thursday will remain on search and rescue efforts, the effects of this mudslide will last long beyond this week.

Search and rescue officials located 87-year-old Joseph Francis Bleckel dead inside his residence on Friday. The likelihood is increasing that we'll be finding bodies, not survivors.

Quirk, meanwhile, planned to keep working at the relief center.

"We're retired so we're in no rush", said Steve Fisk.

She said as her house is positioned on a knoll, she felt secure and that despite being informed she wouldn't have water or gas, she feels grateful.

DeGeneres tweeted the video of her remarks on Thursday.

A Southern California community, ravaged by the worst wildfire in the state's history just last month, is now digging out from a horrific mudslide.

Montecito is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the sprawling Los Padres National Forest and canyons from the nearby mountains channelled the torrents of mud, rock and debris towards residential areas.

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