Walls of mud and debris cascaded down hillsides stripped of trees and shrubs by last month's wildfires, including the Thomas Fire, the largest blaze in the state's history.
Images taken on the once bucolic streets of Montecito seem like something right out of a Hollywood movie.
Riskin was swept away after a mudslide tore through her living room, Conte said, adding that her husband survived because he was in bed in a part of the house that stayed intact. Emergency crews continued Thursday to rescue residents, at times by helicopter, from some of Montecito's still-impassable neighborhoods.
The Corey family was sleeping in their Montecito home when mud swept through the area and collapsed their home around them early Tuesday morning.
The surge destroyed or damaged hundreds of buildings in Montecito and washed out a 30-mile stretch of the 101 Freeway. "Devastated", Winfrey, 63, said as she stood, surrounded by debris.
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.
An orthopedic surgeon and his daughter were also among the 17 victims.
Rohter was swept away in a mudslide and did not survive.
Tighe says there was no mandatory evacuation for her community.
Santa Barbara County emergency manager Jeff Gater told the Los Angeles Times that he waited because, "If you cry wolf, people stop listening".
A crew found the body of the 18th victim, Joseph Bleckel, 87, before noon in his home near Romero Canyon, Brown said.
Authorities hiked the number of those considered missing to 43 at an afternoon press conference, up from eight earlier in the day, saying that some of those people may be out of town or in a hospital but that others may be deceased.
In other areas, mud is coming up to the rooflines of homes.
Amber Anderson, a spokeswoman for the recovery effort, says their top priority is reaching those people, getting them to safety and finding the people who are still missing.
The Montecito Water District is reporting major damage to its facilities, with much of the community it serves now with little or no water. More than 1,200 workers were said to be at the scene.
Handout. / Reuters A man is rescued from flood waters and debris in Montecito.
"There's been plenty of cases where they've found people a week after".
The two must now decide what their next move will be and how to keep up with their daily lives.
"We were laying in bed listening to the rain, and out of nowhere our bed just started shaking, and we could hear just this, like, thunder", she told KTLA-TV.
In affluent Summerland, just east of where the mud flow cut a swath through homes and businesses alike, a liquor store with its door open was a lonely outpost. It sounded like cars being dragged.
Montecito may be at slightly less risk now, because this week's flooding already brought downvulnerable material.
"We just got our electricity so now we're listening to NPR", she said. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office released the names of the dead, who were all Montecito residents.
A family of five were also plucked from the debris of their home in a dramatic rescue.
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.