Death toll from California mudslides rises to 19

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Those who did not lose their homes have been told to leave for up to two weeks so they will not interfere with the rescue and recovery operation.

The evacuation order came as authorities announced a spike in the number of residents still unaccounted for.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says finding anyone alive in the muck at this point would be a "miracle", even as rescue workers continue searching for survivors this weekend.

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 Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department created a page with the names, ages and photos of people who were still missing. "I thought I was dead there for a minute", she told rescuers. We're going to help each other.

But there was some good news Saturday.

Roy Rohter, 84, founder of the Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, was killed on Tuesday when a mudslide swept him from his Montecito home, according to officials at the private Catholic school.

Some 100 homes in the picturesque Santa Barbara area have been levelled to the ground on Tuesday, and at least 300 buildings have been damaged.

Contractors and crews using earth movers and dump trucks were streaming into the property Saturday morning. Another system was possible two days later.

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The Sheriff's Office noted that a separate Montecito resident, also named John Keating, was seriously injured during the slides and is in the hospital. "You have to start accepting the reality of that".

The December wildfires burned away hectares of brush and vegetation that normally would have soaked up heavy rainfall in the hills north of Los Angeles. As much as 13 centimeters of rain fell in some places.

Let's all hope he's right, and the search dogs whose lives were once saved continue to pay it forward by saving more victims. "(It) surrounded the house, 2 to 3 feet". "They were digging in the Montecito Inn and down there in the parking lots yesterday, and I think there may have been some fatalities down there, I don't know. I feel like I escaped". The vast majority of those homes fell under areas that had already been designated by authorities as under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.

That's what caught the ear of Thomas Tighe, a Montecito resident who was outside around 3:30 a.m. checking his home's downspouts during a downpour.

The vehicle is seen reversing away from a wave of water and debris barrelling down the road.

Between Ventura and Carpinteria, a 30-mile stretch of USA 101 remained closed in both directions Thursday because of flooding and mud on the roadway.

For truckers driving south, the San Paso Truck Stop at the Wellsona Road-Highway 101 intersection is one of the last waystations before they would need to exit Highway 101. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

The Weather Company's primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives.

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