On Wednesday morning, hundreds of people were trapped by debris brought in by the unsafe mudslides. The rainstorm that swept into Santa Barbara this week would not.
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. Some neighbors did the same, tired too, and wondering if the rains could really be as risky as the historic fire they had just escaped.
Santa Barbara County authorities sent a shudder through the community early this when they reported that the number of people unaccounted for had surged from 16 to 48. "You just don't even think that this is possible". Between those times, sheriff's office dispatchers handled more than 600 phone calls for help, the sheriff said. The dead, which include four children, were all from Montecito.
Jim and Alice Mitchell moved into their dream retirement home in Santa Barbara County in 1999 and chose to stay there to celebrate Jim's 89th birthday Tuesday, only to be swept away by raging floodwaters, along with their home and their maltipoo named Gigi, their family told NBC news today. He said some people had been rescued Thursday. A new mandatory evacuation order went into effect at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Rescuers plan to search several areas for a second time, hoping to find victims in structures previously examined in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's mudslides.
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.
A wet last winter gave way to a dry summer here and in many parts of California. Burn areas are more susceptible to flooding because rain bounces off the barren surface instead of being absorbed into the soil.
Local Santa Barbara resident Charles Stoop said the magnitude of damage is "worse because of the fires", referring to the devastating bushfires that ravaged the area last month.
The mudslide swept through the coastal community of Montecito on Tuesday morning, catching numerous victims entirely off-guard.
Officials decided against sending a wireless alert as the fire raged. Some had left, many hadn't - and then scrambled to do so after the opportunity had passed. "The whole house shook".
While much of the damage was to relatively modest homes, the catastrophe hit an area known as a retreat for Hollywood celebrities and wealthy executives.
"If you encounter water like this, do not attempt to cross it or drive through it", the tweet warned. Son's in the hospital, dad hasn't been found yet, " he said, declining to name them.
"The mud just." she said, her voice trailing off.
Mark Montgomery, 54, a doctor at Associated Hand Surgeons, was at home with his wife and two children when they were caught in the mudslide, a family friend told to KSBY. "We're seeing people rescued off the roofs of houses that were just a few doors down".
Three days after evacuating, the couple had no idea if their house was still standing.
"It's a true unknown", he said.
As "founder and benefactor of classical Catholic schools", Rohter played "a pivotal role in the lives of countless young Catholic students - students who came to a deeper knowledge and love of Christ because of his vision, commitment, and generosity", added McLean in his statement, posted on the college's website.
"It was hard on people to be gone from their home as long as they were prior to Christmas", he said.