The mudslides in the southwest USA state have destroyed many houses and cut off roads. At least 64 homes have been destroyed and at least 400 damaged.
"At this moment, we are still looking for live victims", Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney said. "There's been plenty of cases where they've found people a week after", Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said on a muddy Montecito street that was especially hard hit by the mudslide.
The heavy rains that spawned mudslides in Southern California on Tuesday that left at least 15 people dead left a path of destruction in a wealthy enclave home to celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office made a plea for information on any of the missing residents, while acknowledging that finding anyone alive would be a "miracle". "We're actively pursuing trying to get in there as quick as we can to get those people to safety".
"Load up the vehicle, get the dogs, we're out of here", the 58-year-old shopping center developer says he told his wife.
"But realistically we suspect that we are going to continue to have discovery of people who were killed in this incident". Emergency officials say that there are scores of people that they know are safe but are just trapped by the debris.
Anderson says the number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.
Cars have been plucked out of swamps and roads have been closed.
Billy Grokenberger lives in a part of Montecito that was under a voluntary evacuation order. "I'm hoping to find them".
"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. They anxious that the disaster-fatigued residents might not take an alert seriously, and didn't want to be seen as "crying wolf". Another Montecito resident said he dug through four feet of mud to rescue a baby he and his wife had heard crying near a neighbor's home. "But it just goes to show you, don't do that". "We've got all those chickens, which means we've got eggs, and they're flawless".
Rainfall totals on Tuesday afternoon ranged from 3 to 5 inches in the mountains in Ventura County and 2 to 3 inches in the mountains of Santa Barbara County. It wasn't fully contained until this week.
County officials have already ordered residents in most of the southeastern corner of Montecito, an unincorporated community east of the city of Santa Barbara, to leave their homes for what they said was likely to be one or two weeks to aid the search and recovery efforts.
They came away shaken after seeing pictures of the flooded Highway 101 and the devastation to downtown Montecito, where they had a veterinary clinic for many years.
Until further notice, visitors can walk the sands but they're urged to stay out of the water because storm and mudslide runoff may have brought raw sewage and chemicals to the sea. "She was the life of the party, always, and loved us all so fiercely".
What can be done?
However, with most utilities about to be cut off and sewage running into the nearby creek, she chose to heed the order to leave.