Search Continues For Hundreds After Mudslides In Southern California

The mudslides also injured almost 30 people and destroyed about 100 homes in the Montecito area between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest.

The immediate areas where people were killed are under mandatory evacuation, and officials increased the size of the evacuation zone Thursday.

Montecito and Carpinteria are especially vulnerable to mudslides because the steep terrain in some places goes from thousands of feet above sea level to sea level in just a few miles, said Tom Fayram, a deputy public works director with Santa Barbara County.

At least 15 people have died as a result of the mudslides, triggered when heavy rains hit hills that were recently devastated by wildfires, The Associated Press reports.

ROY ROHTER, 84:Rohter founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura in 1994 and was described as a man dedicated to his Catholic faith and to helping others.

The rate of rainfall in Southern California Tuesday was 18 times more than required to produce debris flow, according to an analysis by ABC News meteorologists. "It's emotional for me to say this, but I think they're gone".

But resident Robert Riskin was not so lucky as he doggedly slogged through the knee-deep sludge and wreckage, desperately searching for his missing mother, whose home was one of those that had been carried away in the dead of night.

Like several other area residents, Gary Shaw said he was frustrated government officials failed to quickly stabilize the hillside following the Thomas Fire. Santa Barbara County's fire chief said nearly the entirety of Montecito, except for a small section in the southeast, were under mandatory evacuation orders as of 6 p.m. local time. Roy Rohter's wife was rescued and hospitalized in stable condition, but Roy Rohter did not survive, Van Hecke told ABC News.

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The search for victims of the disaster has carried on in Montecito, where crews are labouring to fix power, water and gas lines as well as clean up massive debris.

Jen Guilbeault said she made a decision to stay in her home on Ortega Ridge Road because it, too, was in a voluntary evacuation zone.

The luxury real estate agency called her loss "incredibly devastating" and said Riskin was an exceptional woman. About 65 single-family homes were destroyed and another 446 were damaged.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres shared a picture on Twitter of the flooding on the 101 in Freeway in Montecito, writing "This is not a river". A number of homes were ripped from their foundations, with some pulled more than half a mile by water and mud before they broke apart.

It was left covered with thick muck, boulders, wrecked cars, splintered lumber and tree limbs in a scene Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown likened to a First World War battlefield. The number provided by county officials earlier in the day was eight missing.

One of the victims who lost their lives in the disaster was David Cantin, the father of 14-year-old Lauren Cantin who was rescued after a six-hour effort by first responders on Tuesday.

The mudslides began around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, when residents in their path were likely asleep. U.S. Route 101, California's primary coastal route, remains partially shut down.

The storm is now over, and weather is no longer interfering with rescue efforts, authorities say.

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