California mudslides: Death toll rises after searchers find body

Search and rescue crews found the body of a 25-year-old woman Saturday morning, raising the death toll from the Calif...

Posted: Jan 14, 2018 7:36 PM
Updated: Jan 14, 2018 7:36 PM

Search and rescue crews found the body of a 25-year-old woman Saturday morning, raising the death toll from the California mudslides to 19, authorities said.

The body of Morgan Corey of Montecito was found in mud and debris, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. Her 12-year-old sister, Sawyer, was found dead earlier this week.

NEW: 7 people still missing as searches continue

Sheriff says 18th deceased victim was found in his house

Five people are now missing, the sheriff said, and searchers continue to go through damaged and destroyed homes.

Emergency workers on the ground have doubled since Thursday, with about 1,250 trying to find and rescue those still trapped, Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said.

The mudslides, which came in the early morning hours of Tuesday, destroyed dozens of homes. Those killed ranged in age from 3 to 89, and all lived in Montecito in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles, authorities said.

Rescuers have searched frantically for the missing after rivers of mud and boulders flooded through neighborhoods in and near Montecito, an affluent seaside community east of Santa Barbara, demolishing homes and leaving roads impassable.

"In disaster circumstances, there have been many miraculous stories of people lasting many days. We certainly are searching for a miracle right now," Brown said Thursday.

"But realistically we suspect that we are going to continue to have discovery of people who were killed in this incident."

How to help the victims of the California mudslides

Evacuation zone increased

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

"We know that this a terribly inconvenient development, but it is also incredibly necessary," Brown said.

"This entire area is a very active rescue and recovery and repair zone right now," he said.

He said the zone, which includes areas formerly under voluntary evacuation advisories, would be in effect for one week but that residents should plan for two.

Rescue workers are using helicopters and all-terrain vehicles in a search hampered by blocked roads and downed trees and power lines.

Billy Grokenberger lives in a part of Montecito that was under a voluntary evacuation order. He and his parents put belongings in three cars in case they decided to leave before the storm. They didn't.

"We had thought about leaving, but we had just had the fires," he said, referring to the recent wildfires that stripped the area of needed vegetation. "... We didn't take it serious(ly) enough."

On the morning of the storm, Grokenberger watched as 2 to 3 feet of water streamed down the street.

"(In) four minutes the water was through our wall and in our house, almost to the second story," he said.

"The house is destroyed, but you know, there's just so many others who are less fortunate. But we just feel lucky that we were able to get out and (are) alive."

Risk of mudslides for years

The storm hit hard between 3 and 6 a.m. Tuesday. The rain poured down on hillsides charred by recent wildfires, which burned vegetation that otherwise could make the terrain more resistant to mudslides.

The Thomas Fire -- the largest wildfire in California's recorded history -- burned more than 281,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from early December into this month. It wasn't fully contained until this week.

Geologists and forecasters warned that intense rain could trigger deadly mudslides from the scorched areas.

And because of the fire, communities below the scarred terrain could remain at risk of mudslides for years, said Randall Jibson, a research geologist with the US Geological Survey.

Montecito may be at slightly less risk now, because this week's flooding already brought down vulnerable material.

"(But) no storm brings down everything that is susceptible. There's almost always more" that could come down, Jibson said.

What can be done? Long term, one option would be more basins to slow down storm runoff and collect debris.

Short term, making the public ready to evacuate during heavy rains is key, he said.

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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 614990

Reported Deaths: 7771
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1276671805
Ramsey53587912
Dakota47636477
Anoka43650466
Washington27897298
Stearns22870227
St. Louis18418321
Scott17814139
Wright16652153
Olmsted13678104
Sherburne1221696
Carver1084049
Rice8336112
Clay831592
Blue Earth775144
Crow Wing694099
Kandiyohi675385
Chisago631855
Otter Tail594387
Benton590498
Goodhue489174
Douglas481781
Mower480334
Winona467852
Itasca465768
Isanti448567
McLeod438061
Morrison431162
Beltrami413563
Nobles411950
Steele403219
Polk391673
Becker390557
Lyon367354
Carlton357958
Freeborn356234
Pine339023
Nicollet335745
Mille Lacs317256
Brown310040
Le Sueur302128
Todd290533
Cass290033
Meeker269044
Waseca243923
Martin238333
Roseau213121
Wabasha20963
Hubbard199241
Dodge19383
Renville184746
Redwood179541
Houston177916
Cottonwood168324
Wadena166023
Fillmore162310
Faribault158420
Chippewa154838
Pennington154320
Kanabec148328
Sibley148110
Aitkin140337
Watonwan13699
Rock130219
Jackson123212
Pipestone117326
Yellow Medicine115620
Pope11467
Murray107910
Swift107818
Koochiching96919
Stevens92911
Clearwater89617
Marshall89118
Lake85421
Wilkin84813
Lac qui Parle76222
Big Stone6134
Grant5958
Lincoln5893
Mahnomen5679
Norman5519
Unassigned51293
Kittson49322
Red Lake4037
Traverse3865
Lake of the Woods3504
Cook1760

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 376815

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk59215646
Linn21567342
Scott20530250
Black Hawk16850320
Woodbury15378230
Johnson1479586
Dubuque13627215
Dallas1150699
Pottawattamie11393177
Story1092548
Warren594392
Clinton565894
Cerro Gordo564898
Webster546397
Sioux520574
Muscatine4956106
Marshall493679
Des Moines481776
Jasper454273
Wapello4402124
Buena Vista432340
Plymouth405782
Lee396958
Marion372378
Henry301737
Jones301357
Bremer294663
Carroll287252
Boone273735
Crawford273541
Benton264255
Washington261051
Dickinson251145
Mahaska235151
Jackson225943
Kossuth222166
Clay217927
Tama213872
Delaware213343
Winneshiek201337
Buchanan197834
Page195722
Cedar194323
Hardin192544
Wright191240
Hamilton189251
Fayette188943
Harrison182873
Clayton173258
Butler169135
Madison168019
Floyd165242
Mills164724
Cherokee162238
Lyon161241
Poweshiek159836
Allamakee156452
Hancock154034
Iowa149124
Winnebago147031
Calhoun144813
Cass142155
Grundy139733
Emmet137341
Jefferson135535
Sac133320
Shelby132238
Louisa130749
Union129535
Franklin129223
Appanoose128749
Mitchell127343
Chickasaw126017
Humboldt126026
Guthrie125332
Palo Alto115224
Montgomery106938
Howard105522
Clarke102624
Monroe101533
Keokuk100432
Ida93735
Adair90132
Davis88525
Pocahontas87022
Monona86731
Greene80011
Osceola79517
Lucas78323
Worth7648
Taylor67112
Decatur6649
Fremont64910
Van Buren57318
Ringgold57124
Wayne56623
Audubon53613
Adams3504
Unassigned80
Rochester
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 62°
Mason City
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 54°
Albert Lea
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 55°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 59°
Hazy days are back this week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Mayo Clinic employee reaches a milestone

Image

Mayo Clinic employee reaches a milestone

Image

National Night Out returns to Rochester

Image

Aaron's Tuesday Night Forecast (8/3/21)

Image

Kasson-Mantorville fishing team

Image

House of Shields offers officer lodging

Image

Rochester celebrates National Night Out

Image

RPS defining COVID-19 safety plan

Image

Pop-up chess downtown

Image

Freeborn County Fair offers free COVID-19 vaccines

Community Events